AUSTIN, Texas—As concern rises over the cost and supply of oil in the United States, researchers have outlined techniques that help pump more oil out of the oil-rich Permian Basin.
A report from the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin and the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources at New Mexico Tech compiles details of oil reservoirs in the Permian Basin, one of the richest oil-producing areas in the world. It comprises about 70,000 square miles in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
The report was compiled for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Preferred Upstream Management Practices program. It took about two years and cost about $1 million.
A key part of the report lists recovery techniques that producers have used to extract hard-to-access oil in parts of the basin that could be applied to similar geologic formations elsewhere in the basin.
“If an operator has had some success with a particular development technique in one reservoir then it might be similarly successful in other reservoirs that are related to it,” said Shirley Dutton, the research scientist who was a leader of the project.
Technologies include horizontal drilling, which allows drillers to attack a reservoir from another direction, and the injection of carbon dioxide into wells to flush oil out.
Many of the companies operating in the Permian Basin are small independent producers who might not be able to afford such a comprehensive report on their own.
Drillers have pumped out more than 30.5 billion barrels of oil from the Permian Basin since its first oil strike in the 1920s. Nonetheless, the Permian Basin produced 17 percent of the oil in the United States in 2002. It holds 29 percent of the U.S.’s future oil reserve.
One estimate puts the amount of mobile oil left in Permian Basin fields at 30 billion barrels. About 3.25 billion barrels can be extracted using currently applied methods.
Dutton said action taken based on the report’s development methods section could increase that to a higher percentage.
“If those advanced techniques could be applied to more fields then we could start getting out more of the resource,” she said.
For more information contact: Tim Green, 512-475-6596, or Shirley Dutton, 512-471-0329.