Texas’ Permian Basin: An Oil And Natural Gas Production Machine 2017-05-25

The Permian Basin has been a key research area of mine for over a decade. I used to report on the enormous CO2-EOR opportunities that exist in this massive oil and gas play that stretches over 75,000 square miles from west Texas into southeastern New Mexico.

With some two-thirds of a reservoir’s original oil in place remaining after primary and secondary operations because it’s too difficult or expensive to extract, there could be over 200 billion barrels of oil available for tertiary operations in the Permian. The Permian has been the heart of the 400,000 b/d U.S. CO2-EOR industry that will become increasingly important as prices rise, and in my opinion will be the next oil revolution after shale.

The Permian Basin can be split into two zones, the Delaware Basin on the west and the Midland Basin to the east, both loaded with oil and gas. Since 1920, the Permian has produced over 30 billion barrels of oil and more than 75 Tcf of natural gas.

Yet, the best days of this west Texas energy giant could still lie ahead:  “Nearly $1 Trillion Worth Of Oil Found In Texas, Largest Deposit Ever Discovered In US.”

Today, at around 2 million b/d, the Permian accounts for over 20% of the country’s crude production and is the second largest oil field in the world, after Saudi Arabia’s legendary Ghawar field.

Despite the historic collapse in commodity prices, the Permian has been chugging along thanks to lower costs and widespread infrastructure. The Permian’s multiple shale formations stacked on top of each other allows vertical wells to be drilled through many shale plays at once, and then drilled horizontally through even more liquid-rich shale.

Like a layer cake, the Permian’s more oil and gas per well lowers breakeven costs and ups profits. Given the rich nature of the resource, Permian properties command a premium due to the sheer number of wells that may be drilled per acre.

Continuing, already producing nearly 40% of our crude and 30% of our country’s natural gas, Texas is a friendly place for oil and gas producers. One problem for the shale oil and gas industry continually growing in Pennsylvania and Ohio is that these are new producing states, and citizens are not yet used to the infrastructure build-out that is required to support such a crucial oil and gas business.

In contrast, “Did you know that there are approximately 328,168 total intrastate pipeline miles in Texas?”

Texas has warmer weather, so production can occur, and stays remarkably consistent, throughout the year . And Texas has a highly established labor and equipment industry, with the state’s oil and gas industry adding 3,000 jobs in November and December alone. Texas also borders fast-growing Mexico, now taking in over 60% of all U.S. natural gas and gasoline exports.

Rex Tillerson should hammer this home to President Trump: without Mexico as an outlet, for instance, U.S. natural gas prices would be about 40-50% lower, and our producers would be in quite a pickle.

Since 2014, the interest in the Permian has doubled acreage prices, with some paying $65,000 an acre. Just last month, ExxonMobil paid $6.6 billion to double its exposure in the Permian, which was the largest oil deal in the U.S. since the price collapse that started in over two years ago. Parsley Energy just announced it was paying $2.8 billion for 71,000 acres in the Permian.