The largest continuous oil and natural gas resource potential ever assessed was just announced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and it’s located in the Permian Basin. As Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said of the news,
"Christmas came a few weeks early this year. American strength flows from American energy, and as it turns out, we have a lot of American energy.”
The agency’s first-ever estimate of undiscoverable, technically recoverable resources in the Wolfcamp Shale and Bone Spring Formation in the Delaware Basin portion of Texas’s and New Mexico’s Permian Basin found the region holds an estimated average of 46.3 billion barrels of oils, 281 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids (NGLs).
To put this into perspective, last year the United States consumed a total of 7.28 billion barrels of petroleum products and approximately 27 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Notably, the Midland Basin portion of the Wolfcamp Shale was assessed in 2016 and was considered the largest continuous oil resource at that time. According to USGS, the Delaware estimate released this week is two times greater than the 2016 Midland estimate, and the Midland estimate was already three times greater than a 2013 assessment of the previous record-holding Bakken-Three Forks.
As USGS Director Jim Reilly explained,
“Today, thanks to advances in technology, the Permian Basin continues to impress in terms of resource potential. …Knowing where these resources are located and how much exists is crucial to ensuring both our energy independence and energy dominance.”
And not only does the Permian Basin have the largest resources, but it “is one of the most productive areas for oil and gas in the entire United States,” according to USGS. The EIA’s latest Drilling Productivity Report estimates there was an average of 3.6 billion barrels of oil and 12.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas produced every day in the Permian in November.
The United States became the world’s largest oil producer earlier this year, and the United States has been the world’s largest natural gas producer since 2012. Based on this new USGS assessment, America’s status as a global energy superpower appears to be well established for many years to come.