The Wolfcamp shale in West Texas contains about 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, the largest estimate of continuous oil in U.S. history, the U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday.
The amount is about three times as large as the 2013 estimate for the Bakken-Three Forks formation, and it consists of technically recoverable, undiscovered oil, which takes into account advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the agency said.
“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,” Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program, said in a statement. “Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable, and that’s why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world.”
Steve Everley, a spokesman for North Texans for Natural Gas, an industry-backed group, called the findings “jaw-dropping,” and said it’s a sign the world is nowhere near the point of “peak oil,” in which oil production begins to steadily drop.