In June 1954 Nevada became the twenty-ninth oil-producing state in the United States (Picard 1955). Interestingly, production was from volcanic rocks from the open-hole interval 6,450 to 6,730 ft (1,966 to 2,051 m) in the Oligocene Garrett Ranch volcanics, an unexpected reservoir in the kind of rocks rarely productive anywhere in the world. The pour-point (65-80° F) and gravity (26-29° API) of the crude were high, similar to oils found in the Eocene Green River Formation of the Uinta Basin, northeast Utah. Cumulative production in the field through September 1978 was 3.3 million barrels of oil. An early estimate of ultimate primary reserves was four million barrels of oil (Bortz and Murray, 1979). The trap is a faulted truncated wedge of Oligocene and Cretaceous-Eocene rocks with a top seal of impermeable valley fill, a bottom seal of Paleozoic rocks, and an east-side seal formed by a basin boundary fault and impermeable Paleozoic rocks. The new field in Railroad Valley of east-central Nevada, finally totaling fourteen producing wells, was called Eagle Springs after the locality and the name of the discovery well drilled by the Shell Oil Company. Twenty-two years after the Eagle Springs discovery a larger oil field, Trap Spring, was discovered by Northwest Exploration Company less than ten miles west of Eagle Springs, in Tertiary ash-flow tuffs. Two hundred dry holes had been drilled in Nevada between the two discoveries. In 1982, six years after the Trap Spring discovery, Amoco Production Company drilled the first well outside of Railroad Valley at Blackburn field on the east side of Pine Valley in Eureka County. Blackburn, a structural trap above a Tertiary low-angle extensional fault, produces from Devonian reservoirs. In 1983, Northwest Production brought in the Grant Canyon field about 10 mi (6 km) south of Eagle Springs. The oil reservoir of Devonian carbonates there is entrapped in a ‘buried-hill’. The discovery in 2004 of the Covenant field in Central Utah, because of similarities to large oil fields in the thrust belt of Wyoming and Utah and some resemblance to the Nevada fields of the Great Basin, ignited a frenzy of leasing which still goes on when land is available. Located along the thrust-belt (hingeline), Covenant produces oil from the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone that apparently originated in the Paleozoic.
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Research Article| November 05 2009
Remembering First Oil in Nevada
Earth Sciences History (2009) 28 (2): 161–174.
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M. Picard; Remembering First Oil in Nevada. Earth Sciences History 1 December 2009; 28 (2): 161–174. doi: https://doi.org/10.17704/eshi.28.2.3568120856325474
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