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With so many plays to choose from in the West Texas oil field, it can be difficult to decide where to start.

DI Analytics recently released a refined Permian Basin dataset, and to break it in I decided to take on the challenge of comparing three West Texas oil plays that aren’t quite the easiest to define.

Based on current regulatory reporting practices, researching the vertical wellbores is difficult. The commingled nature of the plays muddies the waters even more. This means diving into the Wolfberry, Wolffork and Wolfbone trends requires a bit of pre-analysis investigation.

West Texas Oil Glossary

For example, “trend area” in the reservoir field is either Wolfberry or Wolfbone. “Consolidated” is a Wolffork reservoir naming convention, most of the time. However, some Wolfberry wells can still be considered consolidated too. Fortunately, there are some ways to further filter out the data.

Searching by field can help.

Wolfbone field name is exactly that, “Wolfbone.” Wolffork is primarily “Holt Ranch” at this time. The Wolfberry field is usually “Spraberry,” but there are others like the “Sallie Ann” or “Howard Glasscock” just to name a couple.

So that sort of provides an abbreviated idea of the filtering process. After applying these filters, I tend to take it a bit further and define the play areas spatially. If you’re unfamiliar with these plays, the stratigraphic column below illustrates the subsurface and the producing intervals of interest.

West Texas Oil: Does the Wolffork, Wolfbone or Wolfberry Lead the Pack?

MaxIP and EUR, Best-Good Friends

From an operational standpoint, there are plenty of other factors to include when comparing these plays, like well economics, reservoir properties and, since these plays are in different developmental stages, the knowledge gained through the drill bit over time.

However, to simply hone in on the overall productivity of these plays, I looked at Estimated Ultimate Recoveries (EURs) and the maximum producing month (MaxIP).

MaxIP is usually the second month of production. It has a very strong correlation to 6-month, 12-month and, to a good extent, 24-month cumulative production. So, ultimately, MaxIP serves as a good proxy for sweet spots.

Using MaxIP as our guide, lets see how these plays stack up.

West Texas Oil: Does the Wolffork, Wolfbone or Wolfberry Lead the Pack?

West Texas Oil: Does the Wolffork, Wolfbone or Wolfberry Lead the Pack?

West Texas Oil: Does the Wolffork, Wolfbone or Wolfberry Lead the Pack?

West Texas Oil: Does the Wolffork, Wolfbone or Wolfberry Lead the Pack?

Winner, Winner, Wolfpack Dinner

As you can see, the Wolfbone appears to stand out as the “top dog” based on these metrics.

However, rate of return (ROR) may be another way to even further compare these plays and may produce different results. I think that deserves a follow up blog. Also deserving might be the effects of drilling deeper, commingling additional reservoirs and the impact that has on EURs.

In any case, it doesn’t look like the West Texas oil field is slowing down anytime soon. That’s probably why so many of you asked for more analytics out of the Permian. We were able to deliver and these are just a few initial observations I was able to glean from the new dataset. I’m excited to see what else I can dig up, and I’m curious to see what kind of results our clients will get by combining this information with the intelligence they already have in-house.

Your Turn

Given what you know about each trend and the numbers discussed above, who do you think is the leader of the pack – Wolffork, Wolfbone or Wolfberry? If you could only choose one, where would you drill? Please leave a comment below.

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Matt Menchaca

Matthew Menchaca is a Research Analyst at Drillinginfo. He is a key member of the Data Management Department and the DI Analytics group. He performs industry research, tracks play development and provides various types of analysis on unconventional resource plays in the U.S. Matthew graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010 after studying Geography and Geological Sciences.