The Wolfcamp Is Largest US Shale Play
Introduction...The Wolfcamp Shale Formation is the largest continuous oil that the USGS has ever assessed in the United States. Many are calling this discovery just north of Midland and west of Abiliene ‘world class.’
“The Wolfcamp could possibly become the largest oil and gas discovery in the world,” said Scott Sheffield, chief executive officer, Pioneer Natural Resources Co.
The operator is the largest acreage holder in the Spraberry/Wolfcamp field with about 900,000 gross acres (730,000 net acres), the majority of which could be prospective for the horizontal Wolfcamp shale.
Based on Pioneer’s extensive geologic database, petrophysical analysis, and successful drilling results to date, there is significant horizontal Wolfcamp shale resource potential in this acreage.
A vast resource...”The Wolfcamp is interesting because it’s been out there,” said J. Ross Craft, chief executive officer, Approach Resources Inc. Since the onset of Permian development in the early 1920s, operators have drilled through this formation. “Early in my career, we knew the Wolfcamp as a nonproductive shale that would put oil in the pits every once in a while,” Craft said. “That was about it.”
Today, Approach Resources holds 170,000 gross acres (mostly contiguous) in the Permian basin with a reported production of 8.4 MMboe/d as of the first quarter of 2013. In 2012, then company held 95.5 MMboe of proved reserves, with 69% represented by oil and natural gas liquids. “When we first started the company in 2006, we had a $5 million commitment, 0 acres, and 0 reserves,” Craft said.
Both Pioneer and Approach Resources tout Wolfcamp potential as a boon for the industry. According to Sheffield, Pioneer’s Eagle Ford success has provided a smooth transfer into the Wolfcamp. “When comparing phases of development, we see the Wolfcamp trending higher than the Eagle Ford based on activity and production,” he said.
According to Sheffield, the company will test 13 zones within the next 3 years. Sheffield noted that recoverable reserves were based solely on the Wolfcamp A, B, and D shelves and the Jo Mill formation. The potential is enormous, and “more reserves are yet to be discovered,” Sheffield said.
Pioneer combines its Spraberry/Wolfcamp acreage. It operates on the northern end of the play, which is said to contain an estimated 3,500-4,000 ft of shales, which translates to nearly 3 to 4 million acres when considered in 3D space as opposed to surface area. “Compare that to the Eagle Ford shale formation, which is about 300 ft thick and the Spraberry/Wolfcamp shale, with its 50 billion boe, begins to dwarf the Eagle Ford and the Bakken with 27 billion boe and 13 billion boe, respectively,” Sheffield said.
Conclusion…The United States is not running out of oil and gas anytime soon as new application of technology is discovering vast resources.
Take away...Some in the oil and gas industry are saying that the produciton costs of thi new shale play make it uneconomical and this is a just a stock price publicity push for Pioneer and Apache. Time will tell.
References: USGS Estimates 20 Billion Barrels of Oil in Texas’ Wolfcamp Shale Formation, USGS.gov., November 15, 2016; Permian’s Wolfcamp formation called biggest shale oil field in U.S., Joe Carroll, Bloomberg News, November 15, 2016