GO IN DEPTH

Exploring for Oil and Natural Gas

Exploring for Oil and Natural Gas Photo Credit: Clipart.com

Introduction

In this lesson, you will explore how geoscientists use tools, such as technology and computer modeling, to find hidden pockets of oil and natural gas below the earth’s surface.


Exploration

Begin by going to the American Petroleum Institute’s, The Story of Oil and Natural Gas. You may watch the introductory video again (as you have done in class) or you may skip the video by clicking on the “Skip Movie” link at the bottom of the screen.

Click on the button for part one: “Exploration.” Watch the short video on the exploration for oil and natural gas. Answer these questions using your student sheet and be prepared to discuss them in class:

  • How is science involved in the exploration for oil and natural gas?
  • How is technology involved in this exploration?In the menu bar on the left side of the screen, click on “The Big Squeeze” to learn about how oil and natural gas are made over time. To re-watch or pause the narration, use the “Narration Control” menu located at the top, right-hand side of the screen.

Answer these questions based on the knowledge you gained from “The Big Squeeze” narration:

  • How did oil and natural gas begin?
  • Briefly explain the role of sedimentation and dead organisms in producing oil and natural gas.

Click on “Migration” in the menu bar on the left side of the screen. Answer these questions based on the “Migration” segment:

  • Why do oil and natural gas move upwards towards the surface?
  • Describe the difference between reservoir rocks and impermeable rocks with respect to the movement of fluids and gases.
  • In some places on earth, oil seeps through the surface while in other places, it is trapped below the surface. Explain how the rocks below the surface of the earth cause this difference to occur.

Click on “Knowing Where to Drill” in the menu on the left side of the screen. Click on “Continue” and “Going Deep” at the bottom of the screen to access the entire narration. Answer these questions based on this segment:

  • Through what type of rock are geoscientists trying to access oil and natural gas today?
  • How do geoscientists use sound waves on the ground to locate oil and natural gas trapped below the surface of the earth?
  • How do geoscientists use sound waves to locate oil and natural gas trapped beneath the seafloor?
  • How do geoscientists use computer modeling with the data gathered through sound waves?
  • What are the three dimensions referred to in the term “3D”?
  • What is the fourth dimension referred to in the term “4D”?
  • Why is the fourth dimension important in mapping oil and natural gas?

Watch the “Seismic Studies Video.” Why are “virtual drilling” and visualization rooms so important to geoscientists?

Click on “Exploratory Wells.” Answer these questions based on the narration:

  • What is an exploratory well?
  • When is an exploratory well drilled?

Continue to “Offshore Drilling” at the bottom of the screen:

  • Once an exploratory well finds oil or natural gas, what are the four aspects that geologists must consider before deciding to drill?
  • What happens if an exploratory well finds little or no oil or natural gas?

Knowledge Check

Use what you learned from “The Story of Oil and Natural Gas” to outline or chart out the steps of oil and natural gas exploration. Begin with the formation of oil and natural gas and conclude with exploratory well drilling. Make sure your chart or outline distinguishes what happens when an exploratory well finds or does not find any oil or natural gas.


This esheet is a part of the Searching for Oil: The Role of Science and Technology lesson.

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AAAS