Datapages, Inc.Print this page

Evolution of Oil and Gas Recovery in the United States

D. Root, E. Attanasi, C. Masters, J. Wood

The history of the oil and gas industries in the United States incorporates sudden shocks and gradual trends. Both are revealed in the graphs of price, production, development, and discovery over the years; for example, more oil was found in the 1930s than was produced in any decade and the gas industry had its best decade for discoveries in the 1950s. Gas production, however, rose later, faster, and higher than did oil production, and, in contrast to oil, more gas was produced in the 1970s than was discovered in the peak 1950s.

For gas and oil, the full recognition of the size of a field occurs gradually as the field is developed and produced. The growth in the estimated sizes of oil fields through development and enhancement of recovery practices, rather than new discoveries, now accounts for two-thirds of the annual additions to oil reserves and a growing percentage of the additions to gas reserves. This change from dominant discovery to dominant development occurred in oil in the 1950s.

Sudden shocks are not usually predictable. Gradual trends such as falling discovery rates in the lower 48 States, the adoption of technology changes, and the rise and fall of production, however, involve the entire infrastructure, and because they develop over many years, they can be analyzed for projection.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91028©1989 AAPG History of Petroleum Industry Symposium, September 17-20, 1989, Titusville, Pennsylvania.