What might be the largest deposit of unconventional crude accumulation ever found in America was just discovered in the Midland Basin portion of Texas' Permian Basin.
The U.S. Geological Survey says 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids make up the discovery in the Wolfcamp shale formation.
If that estimate holds true, the discovery is about three times larger than North Dakota’s Bakken shale play and the single largest U.S. unconventional crude accumulation ever assessed.
According to Approach Resources, the company developing the Wolfcamp shale oil play, Wolfcamp has the potential to become the largest oil field in the US.
"And it was right in the industry's sight," said said J. Ross Craft, chief executive officer. "It wasn't developed until producers ran out of the easy stuff and gas prices tanked that companies started focusing on newer sources of oil."
The deposits are worth about $900 billion, based on a West Texas Intermediate crude oil price of $45 per barrel.
The Permian Basin has attracted oil exploration companies using shale-drilling technology. More than 3,000 horizontal oil wells have been drilled and completed in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp section.
The number of active oil rigs in the Permian has risen over the past few months.
"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,” according to Walter Guidroz with the USGS Energy Resources Program.