How come there is no oil in the Pacific Northwest?

6 Answers

Relevance
  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The volcanic rock is part of the problem. It is incredibly difficult to drill through, and even harder to 'see' through with seismic testing. Seismic data is acquired using sound that bounces off of deep rock, and the basalt is so hard that the seismic data shot through it is very poor. There has been some drilling of some basins in the Pacific Northwest using primarily gravity data. This is still in consideration and the BLM estimates that there may be as much as a trillion cubic feet of natural gas amd oil in the Columbia Basin. This makes sense to me, as a petroleum exploration geologist. I have actually worked on some of these potential finds, but there is very little data to work with at this time.

    Here is the BLM web page for Pacific Northwest oil and gas:

    http://www.blm.gov/or/landsrealty/oilandgas.htm

    The volcanic rock doesn't preclude the possibility of oil. After all New Zealand has a large oil field on the flank of a volcano in sedimentary rock that is both onshore and offshore.

    I think the main reason there is low activity in the area is the combination of difficult and expensive drilling through basalt, which makes it high-risk and the political environment is not favorable towards oil drilling in that area because it is environmentally sensitive. The other reason is that no one has found it yet, and there have been a few wildcat wells drilled. Wildcat wells are called that because they are purely exploration wells, with high risk and little possibility of success. The cost of drilling an exploratory well in that area might be as high as $30 million dollars. As soon as there is a big discovery I am sure there will be lots of interest. The other thing to keep in mind is that a TCF (trillion cubic feet) is not really that substantial to a major oil company like Exxon, bp, Shell, or Chevron, however most independents would be very happy to find that kind of potential.

  • 1 decade ago

    A general rule of thumb is that oil collects on passive continental margins. That doesn't mean it doesn't collect on active margins, like the Pacific Northwest. But it would be harder to find and not have a consistent sedimentary trap. Hey, we can't look everywhere. It is expensive!

  • 1 decade ago

    Mainly because it is volcanic, and oil is produced in shallow marine rock. Almost all of the rock is volcanic related to the Cascadia volcanic zone. Any oil-bearing rock is either covered by volcanoes or it has be oblitorated by the subduction process.

  • 1 decade ago

    Actually, there is. check out http:www.usor.com/abouthistory.html that is one of many websites to gather info. us keywords; u.s. oil supplies in pacific northwest.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    acutally there is some here

  • 1 decade ago

    uhhh.....because there is none

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.