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The Shale Revolutions Next Winner: The Permian Basin

While North Dakota and South Texas garner much of the attention by energy investors, West Texas is fast becoming the backbone of the shale story in the United States.

West Texas is home to the Permian basin, which was originally discovered nearly a century ago. It was home to much of Texas’ oil production for decades, but peaked in the 1970’s – along with many other American oil fields – and entered into a period of gradual decline.

That all reversed course over the last few years, with the familiar story involving hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling unfolding on the dusty plains of West Texas. And although other regions across the U.S. have nearly a decade of fracking under their belt, the surge in production (or resurgence, as the case may be) in the Permian basin has really only ramped up over the last two years.

Between 2007 and mid-2014, oil production in the Permian jumped from 850,000 barrels per day (bpd) to over 1.6 million bpd. Last year, the region accounted for about one-fifth of total U.S. oil production. That is enough to make the Permian basin home to the most productive oil basin in the United States in 2014.

Taken together, six Permian shale formations – Sprayberry, Wolfcamp, Bone Spring, Glorieta, Yeso, and Delaware – make up most of that production. More narrowly, the Sprayberry, Wolfcamp, and Bone Spring formations account for almost 75% of the region’s oil production.

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