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U.S. Geological Survey Assessment of Undiscovered Petroleum Resources in the Wolfcamp Shale and Bone Spring Formation of the Delaware Basin, Permian Basin Province, Texas and New Mexico

Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently completed a geologic-based assessment of undiscovered, technically recoverable continuous (unconventional) oil and gas resources in the Permian Basin (Midland and Delaware Basins) of west Texas and southeast New Mexico. In 2016, the USGS published the results of the assessment of continuous oil and associated gas in the Wolfcamp shale and Spraberry Formation of the Midland Basin. The assessment of petroleum resources in the Wolfcamp shale and the Bone Spring Formation within the Delaware Basin was completed in 2018. These reservoirs have been the focus of increased horizontal drilling during the past decade, with industry targeting multiple oil and/or gas saturated intervals. The Delaware Basin is the western subbasin of the greater Permian Basin. In the Delaware Basin, production from the Wolfcamp shale and Bone Spring Formation, collectively known as the “Wolfbone play” was traditionally from vertical wells with comingled production. Drilling over the past decade has been dominantly targeting individual units of the Wolfcamp shale and Bone Spring Formation using horizontal wells. Assessment units (AUs) for the Wolfcamp shale and the Bone Spring Formation were identified and evaluated using geologic and production data. Specifically, AU boundaries were defined based on thermal maturation data and results of 1D burial history modeling, structure and isopach contour maps generated using ProdFit® data, and Delaware Basin boundaries, which changed during Pennsylvanian-Permian time. Eleven AUs were quantitatively assessed: (1) Delaware Basin Wolfcamp D Continuous Gas AU, (2) Delaware Basin Wolfcamp C Continuous Gas, (3) Delaware Basin Wolfcamp C Continuous Oil, (4) Delaware Basin Wolfcamp B Lower Continuous Oil AU, (5) Delaware Basin Wolfcamp B Upper Continuous Oil AU, (6) Delaware Basin Wolfcamp A Continuous Oil AU, (7) Third Bone Spring Continuous Oil AU, (8) Second Bone Spring Continuous Oil AU, (9) First Bone Spring Continuous Oil AU, (10) Lower Avalon Shale Continuous Oil AU, and (11) Upper Avalon Shale Continuous Oil AU.