The purpose of this paper is to explain the depositional environment, petrology, mineralogy, structure, exploration, technology, methods of extraction and processing, as well as the applications and economics of oil in the Greater Green River Basin. This paper will mainly focus on the oil shale within the basin but will also touch on some of the more conventional oil and gas plays as well. According to Crawford and Killen (2010), Oil Shale is defined as being “a sedimentary rock embedded with organic material called kerogen… and has not been under the necessary heat, pressure, and/or depth for the right length of time to form crude oil”. Oil shale is typically found in silica and carbonate based rocks that are usually no greater than 900 meters in depth and can range from very thin beds at the surface to beds hundreds of meters thick found much deeper (Ogunsola at al. 2010). Shale is considered a good cap rock for hydrocarbons because it is a fine-grained sedimentary rock formed from clay and silt particles that have been lithified into thin but impermeable rocks. The fact that they are impermeable is what makes them such a good cap rock (Leffler et al. 2011).
The Greater Green River Basin contains some of the world’s largest oil shale deposits mainly held in the Green River Formation. The Greater Green River Basin covers parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. This basin is suspected to contain a significant amount of oil, anywhere from 1.5 to 1.8 trillion barrels held solely in the Green River Formation. The Greater Green River Basin is made of four depositional basins that include the Piceance, Unita, Washakie, and Green River Basins. The Green River Basin contains an estimated 250 billion barrels, while the Piceance Basin is ...
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