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Wolfcamp: The Gift That Keeps on Giving


Probably NO ONE in our business has escaped hearing about the USGS announcement of nearly 20 Billion barrels of recoverable oil encased in the Midland basin’s various members/benches of the Wolfcamp/Cline/Spraberry.

To quote the USGS:
“The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin province contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. This estimate is for continuous (unconventional) oil, and consists of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

The estimate of continuous oil in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp shale assessment is nearly three times larger than that of the 2013 USGS Bakken-Three Forks resource assessment, making this the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that USGS has assessed in the United States to date.”

Of course, to many old hands in Midland , saying that the Wolfcamp is chock full of oil is like saying the sun is going to rise tomorrow—a fact known to those who have been getting their hands dirty in the Permian for the last 60 years.

But to have the USGS affirm that knowledge with a large, large number for both oil and gas –well, that grabs everyone’s attention, not just folks who hang out at the Wall Street bar in Midland.

The techniques and technology improvements wrought by several generations of unconventional shale plays have laid the foundation for this upgraded resource assessment.
To be sure, the resource is vast, and the value compelling, but as we have cautioned in other posts, reservoir geology and facies distributions across basins can and WILL change—- a lot!
There is ambiguity about facies correlations across the basin, what targets are time equivalent as flooding surfaces, and even whether picks on the Wolfcamp D across the basin are time equivalent.
The logs below from different parts of the Midland Basin illustrate the correlation difficulties:

Source: DI Geology

Given enough time (and therefore well control) correlation ambiguities will be resolved ( BTW, this is one of the great benefits of individual ownership of minerals—multiple drilling experiments leading to an improved knowledge base).

Before ANYONE starts turning to the right, they have to know what their leases allow them to drill.

If you’re farming into another company’s acreage, or buying a company’s acreage position, you can take some comfort in a well written drill site title opinion. But if any of the lease language contains phrases like “to the base of the Wolfcamp C” or “ no deeper than 100’ below the base of the Permian…” there will be ambiguities regarding mineral rights that need to be understood and accounted for.

Luckily the cavalry just arrived…in the form of DI courthouse. Of course, whenever I think of cavalry I am always reminded of the 7th Cavalry’s march song Garryowen Very stirring and uplifting—just like being able to create runsheets from your desk using DI Courthouse 2.0

We’ve enhanced/added coverage in the counties shown in the map. So your land professionals can efficiently develop the leasing picture that they need to in support of the E&P objectives that you have.

Download the coverage map of Wolfcamp counties that you can access in DI Courthouse.

Discover whether an anticipated lease acquisition is appropriately precise in its lease language to save you from those 2 a.m. “…X%&&#…didn’t think about that” moments of lease anxiety.

Thoughts? Your turn to comment below.

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Mark Nibbelink

Mark Nibbelink is co-founder and director of university outreach at Enverus. Before co-founding Enverus (formerly Drillinginfo) in 1999, Mark had a long career as a prospect geologist at Gulf Oil before beginning work as an independent geologist. Mark is responsible for quality control and data integrity. He received his Bachelor of Arts in geology and his master’s in geology and geophysics from Dartmouth College.