Vast shale oil field in Texas could yield 20 billion barrels

DALLAS (AP) — A vast field of shale rock in West Texas could yield 20 billion barrels of oil, making it the largest source of shale oil the U.S. Geological Survey has ever assessed, agency officials said. The Wolfcamp Shale geologic formation in the Midland area also contains an estimated 16...

Mnet 95346 Oil Discovery West Texas Ap Tn
 
              FILE - In this May 18, 2015, file photo, more than 30 oil drilling rigs stood idle in Odessa, Texas. Ken Medlock, director of an energy-studies program at Rice University in Houston, says an assessment Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 by the U.S. Geological Survey that the Wolfcamp Shale in the Midland-Odessa region could yield 20 billion barrels of oil is another sign that

DALLAS (AP) — A vast field of shale rock in West Texas could yield 20 billion barrels of oil, making it the largest source of shale oil the U.S. Geological Survey has ever assessed, agency officials said.

The Wolfcamp Shale geologic formation in the Midland area also contains an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, the agency said in a release Tuesday.

The discovery is nearly three times larger than the shale oil found in 2013 in the Bakken and Three Forks formations in the Dakotas and Montana, said Chris Schenk, a Denver-based research geologist for the agency.

Geologists explain that oil recovered from shale rock is considered unconventional compared to other oil found in the ground because extracting it requires advanced drilling or recovery methods, such as hydraulic fracturing.

The Wolfcamp Shale is part of the Permian Basin province that includes a series of basins and other geologic formations in West Texas and southern New Mexico. It's one of the most productive oil and gas regions in the U.S.

Schenk said it's been known for years that the region could yield new bountiful oil production, but it took the U.S. Geological Survey time to assess the Wolfcamp Shale and estimate the volume of that production.

"We think the potential is there for the future, and it's not going to be realized overnight," he said.

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