PGS: Nadeau on the US shale oil/gas revolution

Please join us for the February 16, 2016, meeting of the Potomac Geophysical Society (PGS) at 7:00 p.m. at Crowne Plaza – Tysons Corner hotel, 1960 Chain Bridge Road, 22102.  This location is within one-half mile of the Tysons Corner Metro station, near I-495, and has free parking available.  Our private meeting room is located in the back of the Tuscan Grille restaurant on the second floor of the hotel.  This month only, the optional dinner cost will be discounted to $30 for members and non-members ,and is inclusive of iced tea, coffee, tax and gratuity.  Members and guests may attend the presentation after dinner for no charge; we estimate that the presentation will begin at 8:15 p.m.  For attendees who arrive early, the social will be held in O’Malley’s Pub on the first floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel.  Drinks may also be purchased in the private meeting room on a cash basis.

Social: 6:00-7:00 p.m. O’Malley’s Pub, first floor Crowne Plaza

Dinner: 7:00-8:15 p.m. Tuscan Grille, second floor Crowne Plaza

Meeting & Presentation: 8:15-9:30 p.m. Tuscan Grille, second floor Crowne Plaza.

This Month’s Talk: 

The US Shale Oil/Gas Revolution: An Historic Opportunity to Advance American Society* 

Paul H Nadeau, University of Stavanger, Inst. Petroleum Technology

ABSTRACT: Potomac Geophysical Society, Crown Plaza, Tyson’s Corner, VA, 16th February, 2017

Recent technical advances in unconventional or “tight” shale oil and gas extraction1 are reviewed in light of the dramatic rise in US oil and gas production volumes over the last 5 years.

This unprecedented increase in energy production and reserves additions has catapulted the USD into the world leadership position. Using petrophysical analysis and other data, estimates of recoverable US oil reserves are now on the order of 1 Trillion barrels, equal to one-half of the original global conventional oil endowment, or the total volume of oil produced on our planet over the last 100 years.

The strategic significance and geopolitical implications of this remarkable achievement cannot be overstated2. The geological foundations of these energy reserves rest on the development of an extensive Palaeozoic foreland basin along the SE Margin of North America during the formation of the Pangea super-continent, followed by an even greater Mesozoic foreland basin along the western convergent margin from Alaska to Mexico during Pagean break-up and associated creation of the Atlantic Ocean3. No other continent is so favoured with respect to the accumulation of multiple organic-rich shale intervals, source rock deposits, and related mature petroleum systems.

Now the effective and efficient management of these strategic energy reserves must reside with the responsible governmental organizations, which alone can establish policies and regulations to ensure that these vital national resources are not squandered, or adversely impact domestic as well as global environments4.

The learnings from Norway, a small nation of 5 million people, and their ability to create the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund of c. 1 Trillion dollars over the last 20 years5 on a volume only 5% of current estimated US reserve base, is advocated for the repayment of the 20 Trillion dollar US national debt over the coming decades.

The repayment period could then be followed by the creation of a US wealth fund to advance health, education, infrastructure, scientific research, and environmental stewardship on historic global scales.



  1. Scotchman, I.C., Shale gas and fracking: exploration for unconventional hydrocarbons. Proc. Geol. Assoc. (2016) in press
  2. IMF Working Paper, Middle East and Central Asia Department, An analysis of OPEC’s strategic actions, US shale growth and the 2014 oil price crash. by Alberto Behar and Robert A Ritz, Authorized for distribution by Tim Callen, July 2016.
  3. Nadeau P.H. and Reynolds, R.C.Jr., 1981, Burial and Contact Metamorphism in the Mancos Shale, Clays and Clay Minerals, 29, 249-259. ; Nadeau P.H. and Reynolds, R. C. Jr., 1981, Volcanic Components in Pelitic Sediments, Nature, 294, 72-74. ; Passey, Q.R., Bohacs, K.M., Esch, W.L., Klimentidis, R., and S. Sinha, My Source Rock is Now My Reservoir -Geologic and Petrophysical Characterization of Shale Gas Reservoirs. Search and Discovery Article #80231 (2012) Posted June 25, 2012, Adapted from 2011-2012 AAPG Distinguished Lecture. ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co., Houston, Texas.
  4. US Dept. of Energy, Shale Gas 101. ; Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Guidance on fracking: developing shale oil and gas in the UK. Updated 11 April 2016.
  5. NorgesBank Investment Management,

e-mail distribution address of the Potomac Geophysical Society

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