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Crude oil production locations in 2003

Figure 1. Crude oil production locations in 2006.

"Oil" refers to two types of hydrocarbons, crude and condensate.  Crude oil is produced at the wellhead in liquid form at atmospheric pressures and temperatures.  Condensate is recovered as a byproduct of natural gas production.  The major uses for petroleum products are gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil (often used for heating homes), propane, aviation fuel, petrochemical feedstocks, kerosene, lubricants, waxes, and asphalt.

Year of first production in Virginia:  1942
Location of first production in Virginia: Lee County
Year of last production in Virginia: currently producing
Location of last production in Virginia: Buchanan, Russell, Lee, and Wise counties
Total cumulative production: 650,600 barrels since 1950
Total current annual production: 19,155 barrels in 2007
Oil In Virginia Fact Sheet

In 2007, a total of 19,155 barrels of crude oil were produced in Virginia with an estimated value of about $1.3 million.  The total value is based upon the average domestic crude oil first purchase price of $67.27 per barrel reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for 2007.

Crude oil is produced in Buchanan, Lee, Russell and Wise counties in southwest Virginia.  In 2007, A.E.H. Rentals, Daugherty Petroleum, and United Well Service operated productive oil wells in Lee County.  Chesapeake Appalachia, Daugherty Petroleum, and Equitable Production Company produced oil from wells that also produced natural gas in Buchanan, Lee, Russell and Wise counties.  In 2007, there were 3 producing oil wells, and 60 gas wells that also produced oil.

Oil production in Virginia reached its peak level in 1983, with 65,400 barrels produced during that year.  From 1983 to 1999, reported annual production generally declined  reaching the lowest level in 1999 with about 8,804 barrels.  Between 1999 and 2005, annual production increased 200 percent, to a high of 26,417 barrels.  Much of this increase reflected production from several gas wells that, although classified as gas wells because of their high gas to oil production ratio, were also capable of producing oil.  In 2007, production was down by 27 percent from the level in 2005.

Up until very recently, most of the oil production in Virginia occurred in the Ben Hur-Fleenortown and Rose Hill fields in Lee County.  The oil is produced from several zones within the fractured Middle Ordovician-age Trenton Limestone of the Appalachian Basin.  The Trenton Limestone occurs as a structurally folded unit beneath the Cumberland Overthrust Block in the Appalachian Plateaus Province.  The gas wells that also produce oil in Lee and Wise counties produce oil from the Lower Mississippian-age Weir sandstone that is within the Price Formation.


Virginia oil production

Figure 2. Virginia Oil Production, 1995-2007.


Estimated value of oil produced in Virginia

Figure 3. Estimated Value of Oil Produced in Virginia, 1995-2007.


Data sources: Production from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Division of Gas and Oil, Abingdon, Virginia (updated yearly). Unit price from the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C. (updated yearly). Data available upon request.


Other Links:

Virginia Division of Gas and Oil

U.S. Energy Information Administration

Virginia Energy Patterns and Trends


Selected References:Gilmer, Amy K., Enomoto, Catherine B., Lovett, James A., and Spears, David B., 2005, Mineral and Fossil Fuel Production in Virginia (1999-2003): Virginia Division of Mineral Resource Open File Report 05-04, 77 p.

LeVan, D. C., and Rader, E. K., 1983, Relationship of Stratigraphy to Occurrences of Oil and Gas in Western Virginia; VDMR Publication 43, one sheet.

Milici, Robert C., and Upchurch, Michael L., 1991, VDMR Brochure “Oil and Gas in Virginia” revised 2007.

Miller, R. L., and Fuller, J. O., 1954, Geology and Oil Resources of the Rose Hill District – the Fenster Area of the Cumberland Overthrust Block – Lee County, Virginia; VDMR Bulletin 71, 383 p., 50 pls., 17 figs., 17 tables, 11 geologic sections.

Nolde, J. E., 1992, Oil and Gas Well Data and Geology, Lee County, Virginia; VDMR Publication 113, 13 p., 2 maps, scale 1:50,000.