Cheryl Reevis, Administrator
PO Box 850, Agency Square
Browning, Montana 59417
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday
Welcome to the Blackfeet Department of Commerce
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
OIL & GAS
Q. How many Oil and Gas producers are currently operating on the Blackfeet Reservation?
Q. How many producing gas wells are located on the Blackfeet Reservation?
Q. How much natural gas is produced per month on the Blackfeet Reservation?
A. Approximately 17,000,000 MCF per month.
Q. How many producing oil wells are located on the Blackfeet Reservation?
Q. How much oil is produced per day on the Blackfeet Reservation?
A. Approximately 17,000 bbls per month.
Q. What is oil?
A. Together with natural gas, it makes up petroleum, which is Latin for "rock oil". Petroleum is basically a mix of naturally occurring organic compounds from within the earth that contain primarily hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. When petroleum comes straight out of the ground as a liquid it is called crude oil if dark and viscous, and condensate if clear and volatile. When solid it is asphalt, and when semi-solid it is tar. There is also natural gas, which can be associated with oil or found alone.
Crude oil comes in many forms. Usually it is black, but green, red or brown oils are not uncommon. Thin and volatile oils are called "light", whereas thick and viscous ones are "heavy". Light oils have an API gravity of 30 to 40 degrees, which means that the density is much less than 1.0 g/cc. These oils float easily on water. By contrast, some heavy oils have an API gravity of less than 12 degrees and are so dense that they sink, rather than float, in water.
It can be a straw-colored liquid or tar-black solid. Red, green and brown hues are not uncommon.
Q. What is natural gas?
A. Natural gas is a naturally occurring mixture of hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon gases. The principal constituent is methane, which is the simplest hydrocarbon. Natural gas is colorless, shapeless and odorless. It is energy dense and clean burning.
Q. How were oil and natural gas formed?
A. Most scientists believe that oil and natural gas was formed about 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era. Petroleum began to form as plant and animal remains decayed in sediments at the bottoms of oceans, lakes and streams. Over time, massive amounts of pressure and high temperatures converted the organic matter into oil and gas. Sometimes these oil and gas accumulation became trapped in rock formations. Today, oil companies study these rock formations in their search for oil and natural gas. When they find a formation that is likely to contain petroleum, the company drills a well.
Q. What is oil used for?
A. Many people are surprised by how many products are created using petroleum products. Some products are obvious: gasoline, jet fuel, motor oil, lubricants, waxes, kerosene and asphalt. Others, such as plastic and fertilizer, are not commonly associated with oil. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/crudeoil_faqs.asp), a 42 gallon barrel of oil yields:
(Percentages equal more than 100 because of an approximately 5% processing gain from refining.)
Q. What is natural gas used for?
A. Natural gas is used to generate electricity and heat homes and businesses. It is also used for cooking, washing and drying, and as a transportation fuel.
Q. What is the energy potential of the Rockies?
A. The Rockies currently supply about 22 percent of the nation’s natural gas, or nearly five trillion cubic feet (Tcf) annually. More important, they contain enough technically recoverable natural gas to satisfy all current (2006) residential needs for nearly 50 years and more than one fourth of all technically recoverable gas in the lower-48 states (on- and off-shore). [BLM EPCAIII and MMS] By 2025, the Rocky Mountains could be providing the nation with as much natural gas as the Gulf of Mexico, a traditional workhorse of U.S. natural gas production.
Q. What are energy producers doing to help preserve the environment?
A. Oil and natural gas companies have the advanced technology and know-how to protect the land during development. They produce oil and natural gas with minimal surface presence, and when work is completed, wells are closed and the land is restored as closely as possible to original conditions. Moreover, development only occurs once government and industry agree on how wildlife, water supplies, and sites with historical or archeological significance will be protected. Government agencies at the federal, state and local levels oversee development operations.
Q. Doesn’t energy development have a permanent effect on the land and the water supply?
A. The U.S. oil and natural gas industry relies on state-of-the-art technology to protect the environment and wildlife. The industry has developed sophisticated discovery technologies – like 3-D seismic imaging and global satellite positioning – to pinpoint potential oil and natural gas deposits long before production occurs. With these technologies, the amount of surface land affected is dramatically reduced. Directional and horizontal drilling technologies result in more efficient production operations with fewer wells, and less waste (65 percent less for the same amount of reserve additions).
Q. What is a frac job or fracture stimulation?
A. A frac job or fracture stimulation is a process to increase the production rate of an oil or gas well. A fluid, usually water containing surfactants or gelling agents, is pumped down the well at high enough pressure and rate to open cracks in the rock followed by more fluid containing sand. When the fracturing fluid flows back out of the well, the sand remains and holds the cracks open so oil and gas can flow to the well much faster.
Q. What impact does oil activity have on water resources?
A. The typical new Bakken well requires about one million gallons (3 acre feet) of water to drill and complete. The vast majority of this is surface water purchased form city treatment facilities. By comparison the average application rate is 2.48 acre-feet per acre for center pivot irrigation in the United States.
Q. How does horizontal drilling affect the environment?
A. Horizontal drilling is very environmentally friendly. The typical new Bakken well uses a 5 acre surface location that is reclaimed to about two acres for production to develop 1,280 acres of minerals. Vertical well technology of 20 years ago would utilize 4-20 times the number of wells and surface acres.
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