Crude Oil

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. 

Crude Oil in Utah

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

Award-Winning UGS Poster!

UGS Energy and Minerals Program employees co-authored a poster at the 2022 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section meeting where they were given the Steve Champlin Memorial Award for Best Poster Presentation for: Geologic Characterization of the Newly Acquired State 16-2 Cane Creek Research Core, Pennsylvanian Paradox Formation, Northern Paradox Basin, Southeastern Utah

by M. Vanden Berg, E. Jagniecki, R. Ochoa, L. Birgenheier, E. Szymanski, G. Maxwell, D. List, E. Edelman, R. Esser, and K. Cummings

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.

Highlighted Scientific Publications

Bulletin 140

Shallow-Shelf Carbonate Buildups in the Paradox Basin, Utah—Targets for Increased Oil and Gas Production and Reserves Using Horizontal Drilling Techniques

Special Study 167

Surface to Subsurface Reservoir/Aquifer Characterization and Facies Analysis of the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone, Central Utah

Circular 136

Utah Mining 2022—Metals, Industrial Minerals, Uranium, Coal and Unconventional Fuels

Bulletin 139

The Mississippian Leadville Limestone Oil and Gas Play, Paradox Basin, Southeastern Utah and Southwestern Colorado—Lisbon Field, Regional, and Analog Studies

or Search All Publications

Public Interest Articles

Assessing Geologic Carbon Sequestration Opportunities in Utah CO2 Sequestration 2022
Massive Core Donations Spurred by Low Oil Prices Core Center 2021
Utah’s Emerging Northern Paradox Basin Unconventional Oil Play Oil and Gas 2021
Covenant Oil Field in the Central Utah thrust Belt Turns 15 Years Old Oil and Gas 2020
Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Utah’s Energy Industry Energy 2020
The Benefits of Oil and Gas Production to the State of Utah and Its Citizens—How Things Work! Oil and Gas 2019
New Core, New Insights into Ancient Lake Uinta Evolution and Uinta Basin Energy Resources Oil and Gas 2019
Crystal Geyser, Grand County Water 2018
Oil and Gas in the Uinta Basin, Utah –What to Do With the Produced Water Oil and Gas 2018
Horizontal Drilling in Utah: Can Utah Compete with Surrounding States? Oil and Gas 2018
Core Like Never Before – An Unprecedented 1600-foot Core from the Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin Core Center News 2018
Not All Megawatts Are Created Equal – An Examination of Electric Generation Capacity Factor Electricity 2017
UCRC Receives a Treasure Trove Donation of Greater Aneth Oil Field Cores Core Center News 2017
Some impacts of low oil prices on Utah Oil 2016
Cores from Central Utah’s Covenant Field – Oil-Bearing Ancient Sand Dunes Core Center News 2016
Cores from Greater Aneth Oil Field: A Trip Back in Time to Utah’s “Bahama Islands” and “Florida Keys” Core Center News 2016
Understanding Southeast Utah’s Cane Creek Oil, A Continuing Challenge Oil and Gas 2015
Updated Map Shows Utah’s Many Oil and Gas Fields Oil and Gas 2015
Development of New Markets for Uinta Basin Crude via Rail Oil 2015
Utah still supplying gilsonite to the world after 125 years of mining Mining 2014
Frack Sand in Utah? Mining 2014
UGS Set to Publish Major Study on Potential Paleozoic Shale-Gas Resources Oil and Gas 2014
Utah Hosts Petroleum Geology Convention Oil and Gas 2014
Utah Oil and Gas: a rich history, a powerful future (updated 2013) Oil and Gas 2013
New UGS study to determine what best to do with water produced from gas fields in the Uinta Basin Gas 2013
Are Ownership and Production Patterns of Utah Petroleum Resources Related? Oil and Gas 2013
Northwest Utah—Could it be Utah’s Newest Energy Hotspot? Energy 2012
A Longer Term View of the Results of U.S. Energy Policy Energy 2012
Hydraulic fracturing and shale gas Oil and Gas 2012
Utah Shales May Contain The “Right Stuff”—Natural Gas Natural Gas 2011
Natural Buttes Field – Utah’s “tight” sandstone gas storehouse Oil and Gas 2011
Major Oil Plays in Utah and Vicinity Oil and Gas 2010
Ancient Exhumed River Channels of the Morrison and Cedar Mountain Formations Geologic History 2008
Tight Gas Reservoirs, Uinta Basin Oil and Gas 2007
Utah Core Research Center: Aiding Utah’s Petroleum Development Oil and Gas 2007
Increased Oil and Gas Drilling in Utah Starting to Produce Dividends Oil and Gas 2006
Utah Key Player in Future Oil Shale Development Oil Shale 2006
Funding Encourages a Wide Spectrum of Research on Utah's Hydrocarbon Resources Hydrocarbons 2006
“Elephant” Discovered in Central Utah? Oil and Gas 2005
“Bubblin’ Crude” at Rozel Point, Box Elder County Great Salt Lake 2005
UGS Awarded DOE Grant Oil and Gas 2004
New Oil and Gas Fields Map of Utah Oil and Gas 2004
An Up Close and Personal View of Cherokee Oil Field Oil and Gas 2003
Natural Gas Development Continues to Expand in Utah Oil and Gas 2003
Coalbed-Gas Exploration in Utah Oil and Gas 2003
Utah’s Petroleum Industry Posts Banner Year in 2001 Oil and Gas 2002
Growing importance of coalbed gas in Utah Energy 2002
Too Many Wells — or Too Few Water 2002
Oil and Gas in Summit County, Utah Oil and Gas 1995
Oil and Gas Pipeline Map of Utah Maps 1994

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