Wolfcamp play assessment puts Bakken at No. 2 all-time largest

The Permian Basin's Wolfcamp shale has officially overtaken the Bakken-Three Forks shale as the largest continuous oil formation ever assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey.
By The Bakken Magazine Staff | December 20, 2016

The Permian Basin’s Wolfcamp shale has officially overtaken the Bakken-Three Forks shale as the largest continuous oil formation ever assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey. Three years after the USGS released data on the Bakken detailing its 7.3 billion barrels of oil total, the Wolfcamp shale, located in the Midland Basin portion of the greater Permian Basin, was assessed to have 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, said that the recent assessment shows that even in areas where billions of barrels of oil have been produced, “there is still potential to find billions more.” 

The assessment is not a new discovery in the Permian, but rather acts as an official recognition of the massive amounts of oil in the area of West Texas that are now economically recoverable through new technology based on horizontal drilling. According to the USGS, the Wolfcamp has been a part of the Wolfberry play since the 1980s and was treated with traditional vertical well technology. Since the advent of horizontal drilling, more than 3,000 horizontal wells have been drilled and completed in the Midland Basin’s Wolfcamp. 

“Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable,” Guidroz said, “that’s why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world.”