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PSDigital Oil-Play Maps of the Permian Basin*

Caroline L. Breton1, Shirley P. Dutton1, and Ronald F. Broadhead2


Search and Discovery Article #40333 (2008)

Posted October 30, 2008


*Adapted from poster presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, San Antonio, Texas, April 20-23, 2008.


1 Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX ([email protected], [email protected])

2 New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM ([email protected])



The Permian Basin of west Texas and southeast New Mexico, which produced >30 Bbbl of oil through 2000, remains an important oil-producing province. Because of the substantial amount of oil remaining in the basin, a digital oil-play portfolio was developed. A total of 1,339 significant-sized reservoirs in the basin each had cumulative production of >1 MMbbl of oil through 2000; total production from these reservoirs was 28.9 Bbbl. Thirty-two oil plays covering both the Texas and New Mexico parts of the Permian Basin were defined on the basis of reservoir stratigraphy, lithology, depositional environment, and structural and tectonic setting. Each significant-sized reservoir was assigned to a play and mapped using the Geographic Information System (GIS).

GIS files illustrate reservoirs, play boundaries, and boundaries of major geologic elements. For Texas reservoirs, wells were buffered by 0.5 mi and reservoir boundaries manually simplified. Although reservoir outlines generated by this process show approximate location, size, and shape of each reservoir, they are not precise boundaries. A reservoir shapefile for each play contains the geographic location of each reservoir and attribute information, including play name, play code, RRC unique reservoir number, RRC district, field name, reservoir name, state, county, discovery year, depth in feet to top of the reservoir, 2000 production in barrels, and cumulative production in barrels through 2000. New Mexico oil-pool-boundary (reservoir) and play-boundary GIS shapefiles were provided, rectilinear boundaries of New Mexico reservoirs reflecting legal definition of the fields. New Mexico and Texas play-boundary data were merged to form a single Permian Basin play-boundary shapefile. A map of five Pennsylvanian plays producing from ramp and platform carbonates and slope and basin sandstones illustrates the play maps.































Data Sources and Acknowledgments

ArcGIS by ESRI was used to create these final data and maps. Numerous data sources were utilized for mapping reservoirs in Texas, particularly well location data from Landmark Graphic’s Datastar™ product and Cumulative production data come from the records of the Railroad Commission of Texas and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Engineering Committee. Play boundaries include areas where oil reservoirs in that play occur but are smaller than 1 million bbl of cumulative production. Geologic features of the Permian Basin are based on Silver and Todd, 1969; Hills, 1984; and Frenzel et al., 1988.

The oil play maps of the Permian Basin were developed as part of the U. S. Department of Energy Preferred Upstream Management Practices (PUMP) Program. Support was also provided by the Bureau of Economic Geology and the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. The complete report is available as:

Dutton, S.P., Kim, E.M., Broadhead, R.F., Breton, C.L., Raatz, W.D., Ruppel, S.C., and Kerans, Charles, 2005, Play analysis and digital portfolio of major oil reservoirs in the Permian Basin: The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology Report of Investigations No. 271, 287 p., CD-ROM.



Dutton, S. P., E.M Kim, R.F. Broadhead, C.L. Breton, W.D. Raatz, S.C. Ruppel, and C. Kerans, 2005, Play analysis and digital portfolio of major oil reservoirs in the Permian Basin: The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology Report of Investigations No. 271, 287 p., CD-ROM.

Frenzel, H.N., R.R. Bloomer, R.B. Cline, J.M. Cys, J.E. Galley, W.R. Gibson, J.M. Hills, W.E. King, W.R. Seager, F.E. Kottlowski, S. Thompson III, G.C. Luff, B.T. Pearson, and D.C. Van Siclen, 1988, The Permian Basin region, in Sedimentary cover; North American Craton, United States: GSA Geology of North America, D. 2, p. 261-306.

Hills, J.M., 1984, Sedimentation, tectonism, and hydrocarbon generation in Delaware Basin, west Texas and southeastern New Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 68/3, p. 250-267.

Silver, B.A., and R.G. Todd, 1969, Permian cyclic strata, northern Midland and Delaware Basins, west Texas and southeastern New Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 53/11, p. 2223-2251.


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