The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) announced the estimate of continuous oil in the Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of the Permian Basin is almost three times that of the 2013 USGS Bakken-Three Forks resource assessment. This makes the the Wolfcamp the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that the USGS has assessed in the United States–ever.
The USGS estimates the Wolfcamp shale contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program, believes changes in technology and improved industry practices have made more oil and gas recoverable. Producers can now extract oil that was impossible to remove before.
Until the recent “shale revolution,” most wells in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp section were vertical wells, but oil and gas companies have recently used horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract oil, allowing a much higher volume of recoverable oil. No matter which well type is used, the Permian basin has always been a very productive oil-producing area.
With this new data, it seems that “energy independence” might be closer than we realized.