A new geology-based assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has discovered previously unknown continuous recoverable resources of roughly 46.3 billion barrels of oil and 281 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Wolfcamp shale and Bone Spring Formation of the Delaware Basin in the Permian Basin Province, southeast New Mexico and west of Texas.
Director of the USGS, Dr Jim Reilly, said in the 1980s, during his time in the petroleum industry, the Permian Basin and similar mature basins were not considered viable for producing large new recoverable resources.
“Today, thanks to advances in technology, the Permian Basin continues to impress in terms of resource potential. The results of this most recent assessment and that of the Wolfcamp Formation in the Midland Basin in 2016 are our largest continuous oil and gas assessments ever released,” Dr Reilly said.
“Knowing where these resources are located and how much exists is crucial to ensuring both our energy independence and energy dominance,” he added.
The USGS previously assessed conventional oil and gas resources in the Permian Basin province but this was the first assessment of continuous resources in the Wolfcamp shale and Bone Spring Formation in the Delaware Basin portion of the Permian.
Prior to this discovery, the Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of the Permian Basin province (which was assessed separately in 2016) was the largest assessment of continuous oil conducted by the USGS.
The Delaware Basin assessment of the Wolfcamp Shale and Bone Spring Formation is more than two times larger than that of the Midland Basin.
Walter Guidroz, Program Coordinator of the USGS Energy Resources Program said the results demonstrate the impact that improved technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling has had on increasing the estimates of undiscovered, technically recoverable continuous (i.e. unconventional) resources.
The USGS’s report can be found online here.