The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has estimated that the Wolfcamp shale play is now the largest continuous oil accumulation in the United States.

The agency said on Tuesday that the Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin province contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil.

The shale play also holds an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

The agency’s estimate focuses on continuous, unconventional oil and consists of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

The estimate of continuous oil in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp shale area is nearly three times larger than the agency’s 2013 resource estimate for the Bakken-Three Forks area.

The Wolfcamp now holds the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that the USGS has assessed in the United States to date.

The Wolfcamp play is located in western Texas.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” USGS Energy Resources Program program coordinator Walter Guidroz said.

Since the 1980s, the Wolfcamp shale area in the Midland Basin has been part of the Wolfberry play that encompasses Mississippian, Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian reservoirs.

The Wolfcamp shale play is also present in the Delaware Basin portion of the Permian Basin province, but was not included in the USGS’s latest assessment.

According to the USGS, more than 3,000 horizontal wells have been drilled and completed in the Midland Basin’s Wolfcamp section.


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