July 2014 Newsletter

NC Geology and Petroleum Potential - the Basics   


My graduate school advisor at NC State, Vic Cavaroc, liked to tell us that the basic principal of geology is that holes in the earth get filled in. This is especially true when it comes to discussions involving petroleum reservoirs. As the debates and discussions of oil and gas development in North Carolina evolve, I thought a quick review of the geology of North Carolina as it relates to the potential for petroleum resources might be helpful for some.


Main North Carolina Physiographic Provinces.  Image obtained from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-twoworlds/1670

In this issue:
  • NC Geology & Petroleum Potential - The Basics  
  • Positive feedback from Pyramid's Clients  
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Our state is divided into three major regions, the Blue Ridge (west NC), the Piedmont (central NC), and the Coastal Plain (east NC). The Blue Ridge predominantly consists of very old rocks that have been buried and then lifted back up to the surface to form the peaks and ridges we see today. This area has very limited potential as a petroleum resource because it is old and has been heated and pressurized (processes that can destroy petroleum reservoirs).


The Piedmont is similar to the Blue Ridge in many ways, but was not uplifted to the same extent. Again, the rocks have been heated, pressurized and deformed, leaving little chance of finding or extracting petroleum for commercial use.


The Coastal Plain consists of a much younger group of rocks that were formed by sediments accumulating along ancient coast lines during times of higher sea level stands (60 million years ago the shoreline was almost as far west as Raleigh!). The ancient carbon (typically generated from micro-organisms) that is found in these rock formations provides the potential for the formation of petroleum reservoirs. The Coastal Plain has not been extensively explored onshore, but these types of rocks are the primary targets of East Coast offshore petroleum prospectors.

Geologic cross section through NC.  Image obtained from http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/FS-033-96/

Within the major regions discussed above, only a few specific locations are thought to be considered viable candidates for oil and gas reserves in North Carolina. Particularly, there are two basins, one centered near Eden and the other near Sanford, that are thought to potentially contain extractable volumes of petroleum. These basins are comprised of deep, thick layers of older sedimentary rocks (remember the filling the hole theory) containing hydrocarbons that form petroleum reservoirs.  Coal and gas have been found in these rocks near Sanford. These rocks have many of the characteristics of the formations that are currently being "fracked" in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other areas. However, although the geologic conditions are similar, the overall size of these North Carolina basins is not comparable to the similar formations in other states.


Another basin worth mentioning in our discussion is located south of Fayetteville, straddling South Carolina. This basin is not exposed at the ground surface, and its potential as a petroleum resource has only been identified thus far by geophysical investigations. This "buried" basin may hold the potential to contain hydrocarbons as well. There is currently a program in place by the State of North Carolina to perform some initial exploration of this basin with deep drilling.

Locations of potential petroleum reservoirs in NC.  Image obtained from  http://www.centralncmineralclub.org/field_trips/pilot_mtn/


So in a nut shell, there are two relatively small portions of North Carolina that provide the potential for oil and gas production, and another area south of Fayetteville that may contain petroleum but its characteristics are largely unknown. However, in the oil business it is frequently the unknown that brings the biggest surprises.

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We wanted to share some of the positive feedback we have received recently from some of our clients.  Thank you all for your support and kind words!

"I have been very pleased with Pyramid Environmental & Engineering, P.C.'s great customer service. My Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan and permit renewal application were completed before the deadline, keeping us in compliance."  


" I was very happy with the service you provided and the timely matter in which you handled the inspection of the Phase I and Phase II.  You were a great help to me in the knowledge of what test (was) needed to be performed for the National Park Service. Thank you so much for excellent service."

"Our experience with Pyramid has been nothing short of superlative. It is rare to find a  company that can marry technical competence with personal accountability on projects and that is what sets the Company apart. We like to do business with companies that are aligned the same way we are in treating our Clients and we have definitely found that to be the case with Pyramid."


"Pyramid Environmental and Engineering, P.C. has been providing us with high quality environmental engineering reports and consulting for the past two years.  They currently provide these services for approximately 402 acres that make up the Carolina Preserve at Amberly subdivision.  Over the years we have found you to be very responsive and hard working.  They maintain excellent working relationships with all levels of municipal staff and we are pleased to offer this recommendation for their services."   


"Met a guy last Friday who has been in one for 5 years (Brownfields agreement) and he is not sure of his circumstances.  I told him we worked with Pyramid and got it done!"


"We were very happy with the survey that you provided.  You guys were able to work with the short time period and quick turnaround that we needed in order to move forward with the closing.  We would certainly recommend your company!

Thanks again!!"


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"Your Teams effort, ... simply puts out the most informative and well organized Newsletter I get. It is the only one I now read thoroughly. As our business interests are so focused in your Region, I again appreciate your finished product."  

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