Utah has historically ranked in the top 10 largest producers of crude oil in the United States (not including federal offshore areas). Utah’s crude oil production is mostly from Duchesne and Uintah Counties (Uinta Basin) and San Juan County (Paradox Basin). The 2004 discovery of the Covenant field, and later the Providence field, in central Utah, opened up this previously undeveloped area to new production.
Utah has five refineries which are located just north of Salt Lake City. Most of the crude oil produced in the Uinta Basin is delivered via truck to these refineries and two pipelines supply additional feedstock—the Chevron pipeline runs through the Uinta Basin delivering crude oil from the Rangley field in Colorado and the Plains pipeline delivers oil from Wyoming and Canada. Crude oil produced in southeastern Utah is shipped via pipeline to New Mexico. Refined fuel is delivered via the Tesoro pipeline to markets in the northwest U.S. and the UNEV pipeline delivers refined products to Cedar City and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Petroleum Research Projects/Reservoir Studies
The Petroleum Section of UGS is the principal investigator of several government-industry cooperative petroleum research projects. The projects are designed to improve recovery, development, and exploration of Utah’s oil and gas resources through the use of more efficient technologies.
- Shale Oil – Liquid-Rich Shale Potential of Utah’s Uinta and Paradox Basins: Reservoir Characterization and Development Optimization
- Tight-Gas Sands – Gas Production Forecasting From Tight-Gas Reservoirs: Integrating Natural Fracture Networks and Hydraulic Fractures
- Paleozoic Shale Gas – Paleozoic Shale-Gas Resources of the Colorado Plateau and Eastern Great Basin
- Cretaceous Shale Gas – Cretaceous Mancos Shale, Uinta Basin, Utah: Resource Potential and Best Practices for an Emerging Shale-Gas Play
- Leadville Limestone – The Mississippian Leadville Limestone Exploration Play, Utah and Colorado: Exploration Techniques and Studies for Independents
- PUMP – Preferred Upstream Management Practices, Major Oil Plays of Utah and Vicinity
- Paradox Basin II – Heterogeneous Shallow-shelf Carbonate Buildups in the Blanding Sub-basin of the Paradox Basin, Utah and Colorado: Targets for Increased Oil Production and Reserves Using Horizontal Drilling Techniques
- Green River Formation – Reservoir Characterization of the Lower Green River Formation Southwest Uinta Basin, Utah
- Bluebell Field – Increased oil production and reserves from improved completion techniques in the Bluebell field, Uinta Basin, Utah
- Ferron Sandstone – Geological and Petrophysical characterization of the Ferron Sandstone for 3-D simulation of a fluvial-deltaic reservoir
- Paradox Basin – Increased oil production and reserves utilizing secondary/tertiary recovery techniques on small reservoirs in the Paradox Basin, Utah
- Pilot Shale – Detailed Stratigraphy and Hydrocarbon Potential of the Devonian-Mississippian Pilot Shale, Western Utah, USA
Utah’s Oil Booms
Utah has experienced four oil booms since large-scale production began in the 1940s. The first spike in crude oil production followed the discovery of the very large Bluebell field in the Uinta Basin in 1955 and the Greater Aneth field in the Paradox Basin in 1956. The second boom coincided with a 1971 increase in wellhead price and the discovery of the Altamont field in the Uinta Basin. The third peak in production resulted from the price spike of the early 1980s and followed the 1980 discovery of the Anschutz Ranch East natural gas field in northeastern Utah, which also produced large amounts of crude oil. The most recent production peak was again related to higher prices which resulted in higher production from existing fields, new field discoveries in the Uinta Basin, and the discovery of the Covenant field in central Utah in 2005.