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From Gushers to Reserve Growth: A Brief History of Texas Oil

FISHER, WILLIAM L., Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

From the first gusher discovery at Spindletop in 1901 to the present, Texas geologists and operators have discovered some 165 billion bbl. Up to this point, nearly 60 billion bbl have been converted to producible reserves and 90% of that produced. Well over 100 billion bbl remain for improved recovery, and modest volumes exist for future discovery.

It has been a long history from creekology to surface mapping through micropaleontology, electric logging, and seismic analysis. Major new-field discovery is largely history. The last giant oil field was Fairway, discovered three decades ago. In recent years new-field additions of oil have been no more than 10% of total additions. Today, advanced concepts of depositional systems, facies architecture, and fluid diagenesis, coupled with advanced techniques of logging, seismic detection, and well completion, are being used to reexplore old reservoirs for increased recovery or reserve growth. As with the pioneer geologists and wildcatters in Texas, today's geologists, geophysicists, and engineers are adding substantial new reserves. In 1984 and 1985, added new reserves exceeded production an event last recorded two-and-one-half decades ago.

The history of Texas' exploration and development is long and exciting, but it is only half written. With future ingenuity equal to the past as much lies ahead as behind.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)