USGS updates resource estimate for Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

About 19 million bbl of undiscovered, technically recoverable crude oil and 244 bcf of undiscovered natural gas lie within the Puerto Rico-US Virgin Islands Exclusive Economic Zone, the US Geological Survey said in a Nov. 25 report.

It said the assessment was based on the postulated presence and viability of petroleum system elements including source rocks, reservoir rocks, traps, and timing considerations.

The US Department of the Interior agency said it used this geologic framework to define three hypothetic petroleum systems and five assessment units (AU) to assess the potential for technically recoverable resources in new field discoveries. Economic resources were not evaluated, it added.

Except for the Muertos Deformed Belt, the AU had been considered in previous oil and gas investigations, according to USGS. In this study, it was the only one with petroleum system elements which, although largely uncertain and risked, lay above the 10% threshold to justify a quantitative assessment.

That assessment produced the estimates of 19 million bbl of crude, 244 bcf of gas, and 6 million bbl of natural gas liquids.

The five AU form about 13% of the total evaluation area, the report said. The rest, including the Atlantic and Caribbean oceanic crusts, the Puerto Rico trench, and the Puerto Rico and Virgin Island shelf areas, have no petroleum potential and were not considered further.

There also is no petroleum potential in US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico onshore areas, the report noted.

Contact Nick Snow at

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