Six Formations Boost Permian Production

Article title
Crude oil production in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico surges thanks to production gains in six formations.

Six formations within the Permian Basin region in Texas and New Mexico have provided the bulk of the basin’s 60 percent increase in oil output since 2007, positioning the Permian as the largest crude oil producing region in the United States, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Wednesday.

Permian Basin oil production has grown from a low point of 850,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2007 to 1,350,000 bpd last year, EIA reported. The growth has largely resulted in oil production in Permian Basin counties exceeding production from the federal offshore Gulf of Mexico since March 2013. Last year, the Permian Basin accounted for 18 percent of total U.S. crude production.

The recent growth in Permian crude production has come primarily from six low-permeability formations, including the Spraberry, Wolfcamp, Bone Spring, Glorieta, Yeso, and Delaware formations. The Spraberry, Wolfcamp and Bone Spring formations have played a significant role in boosting Permian production, comprising almost three-quarters of the increase in Permian crude production.

Production from these formations have driven the increase in horizontal oil drilling in the Permian in recent months, EIA reported earlier this year.

Collective production from these formations has grown from approximately 140,000 bpd in 2007 to an estimated 600,000 bpd in 2013; as a result, their share of total Permian production has grown from 16 percent to 44 percent. According to the EIA, initial well production rates from Spraberry, Wolfcamp and Bone Spring wells are comparable to those in the Eagle Ford and Bakken shale formations.

“Production from these formations has helped drive the increase in Permian oil production – particularly since 2009 – despite declining production from legacy wells,” EIA said in its July 9 Today in Energy brief.

In the past, oil production came from more permeable areas in the basin, but horizontal drilling applications and hydraulic fracturing have opened up large, less permeable areas to commercial production, EIA reported.


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Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at


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