Billions of gallons of oil estimated in Permian Basin, expert speaks

Billions of gallons of oil estimated in Permian Basin, expert speaks

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - It's being called a monumental discovery. A study reveals billions of potential barrels of oil in the Midland Basin of the Wolfcamp Shale.

The Midland Basin is apart of the Wolfberry play that includes Pennsylvanian, Mississippian and Lower Permian reservoirs.

"We think there is approximately 20 billion barrels to be recovered in the Wolfcamp shale," Chris Schenk, a member of the Wolfcamp Shale assessment team with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS found a potential of billions of barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

"We didn't find anything. I mean this oil has been known there for a long time. Our task is to estimate what we think the volume of recoverable oil is in a unit like the Wolfcamp," said Schenk.

What does this all mean for us here in the Basin?

"We have much better idea of what is there," said Morris Burns, a local oil expert and former president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.

Burns said this is a positive revelation for those in the oil industry but he said not to get too excited because the price of oil is still down.

"We are picking up a few rigs every now and then but we wont see it really take off until we that price in the $60 to $65 range," said Burns.

The USGS said this is the largest estimate of continuous oil that they have ever assessed in the U.S. The oil is unconventional and more than likely would require hydraulic fracturing to tap into it.

"When we talk about that many millions of barrels of oil in the ground, that doesn't mean we can recover it all. We recover in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 percent," said Burns.

Burns expects price to pick up but says it will be a slow process.

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