Data, Stats, News & Info

Permian Basin Data, History & Stats

This guide provides information about the Permian Basin, oil and gas data, history, top operators and other facts.

Permian Counties

Overview

Permian Basin Oil and Gas

Did you know that more than half of the world’s petroleum derived from Permian times has come from the Permian Basin? 

It is one of the nation’s oldest oil and gas producing regions, and in this post, we will tell you everything you need to know about the location, production, and other interesting facts.

Permian Basin: The largest oil-producing region in the US.

The region has been producing for nearly a century and still contains massive resources of oil and gas. In April of 2022, The Permian Basin accounted for 43,6% of oil production within the U.S. and nearly 15% of gas production. 

What is the Permian Basin?

The Permian Basin is a sizable sedimentary basin that extends across 55 counties in western Texas and southeast New Mexico in the United States. It is renowned for having abundant quantities of natural gas, petroleum, and potassium. It is made up of more than 7,000 fields and spans an area of more than 86,000 square miles that is roughly 250 miles broad and 300 miles long.

By the mid-2000’s, operators started using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques with great success, putting the Permian Basin back at the top of production. In the last 10 years, you can see that not only the rig count keeps increasing, but that the Permian Basin has almost half of all the rigs in the US. [Chart below]

Permian Basin Map

Horizontal Rig Count

Rig Count US Basins 2022
US Basins - Source: Baker Hughes

Natural resources obtained in The Permian Basin

Additionally, Sylvite, Langbeinite, Halite (rock salt), Sulfur, and Uranium are all found in the Permian Basin.

After Sylvite was found in 1925, its yields were used to produce potassium salts (Potash). Halite (rock salt), a byproduct of the potash mining industry, was also mined.These minerals were deposited after the Permian seas where the Wolfcamp and Bone Spring were deposited dried up – capping those layers with thousands of feet of mineral-rich evaporites.

One potash district near Carlsbad, New Mexico, has supplied almost 85% of the potassium produced in America.

The Permian Basin: History, Data and Facts

Despite being named after the Permian Period (299–251 million years ago), the Permian Basin can be traced back much earlier to Precambrian tectonic events that took place between roughly 1.3 billion and 850 million years ago. However, subsidence and deposition reached incredibly high levels during the Permian, making it one of the thickest deposits of Permian-era rocks on the entire planet. Because of this, it is named the Permian Basin.

Permian Oil Production

When and how did it start?

The first well was drilled by W.H. Abrams in 1920, but it could not be economically viable because it barely produced 10 barrels of oil per day. The well was named Santa Rita in honor of the Patron Saint of the Impossible when Texon Energy tried again in August 1921 after several months of failure. Oil first emerged from the Santa Rita well in May 1923, almost two years after drilling began. The well produced for nearly 70 years till it was plugged off in 1990.

Early in the 1970s, gas output skyrocketed to approximately 10 billion cubic feet per day, while oil production reached a peak of almost 2 million barrels per day. The Permian Basin supplied almost 20% of the oil and 15% of the natural gas used in the United States during this period.

Oil production had decreased more than 60% from its peak in the early 1970s by the mid-2000s. With the advent of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods, the number of rigs used for horizontal drilling has increased from 275 in January 2022 to 329 in August 2022. The Permian Basin’s production has increased as a result.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) stated in its productivity report of June that oil output in the Permian is due to increase by 84,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a record 5.316 million bpd in July 2022.

Oil Rig Santa Rita

Unconventional oil production over the last 10 years

Unconventional horizontal well Daily Oil Production Permian Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Oil Production [bo/d]
Reported production of wells in the Permian Basin
Number of wells with reported production, by state

Top 20 counties [April 2012 - April 2022]

Daily Oil Production of the top 20 counties in the Permian Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Oil Production [bo/d] of the Top 20 Counties
Ranking County State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Bo/d)
1 Lea New Mexico 4.115 774.749
2 Midland (TX) Texas 4.003 563.725
3 Eddy (NM) New Mexico 4.461 569.638
4 Reeves Texas 3.996 466.433
5 Martin (TX) Texas 2.889 443.543
6 Loving Texas 2.589 387.344
7 Howard (TX) Texas 2.082 317.798
8 Upton Texas 1.841 242.786
9 Ward (TX) Texas 1.145 117.725
10 Reagan Texas 1.916 113.497
11 Culberson Texas 904 103.046
12 Glasscock Texas 1.307 106.256
13 Andrews Texas 902 93.491
14 Pecos Texas 627 70.093
15 Winkler Texas 404 43.397
16 Yoakum Texas 400 34.877
17 Irion Texas 844 17.055
18 Ector Texas 237 20.891
19 Scurry Texas 94 12.275
20 Borden Texas 142 12.924

Top 50 oil operators [April 2012 - April 2022]

Daily oil production of the top 50 operators in the Permian Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Oil Production [bo/d] of the Top 50 operators
Ranking County State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Bo/d)
1 Pioneer Natural Resources Texas 3.269 468.744
2 ConocoPhillips Texas & New Mexico 3.438 346.235
3 EOG Texas & New Mexico 2.069 347.621
4 Devon Energy Texas & New Mexico 1.917 289.309
5 Exxon Mobil Texas & New Mexico 1.794 314.598
6 Diamondback Texas & New Mexico 2.5 282.84
7 Occidental Texas & New Mexico 2.115 269.769
8 Chevron Texas & New Mexico 1.274 208.383
9 Endeavor Energy Texas & New Mexico 791 182.527
10 Mewbourne Oil Texas & New Mexico 912 187.562
11 Coterra Energy Texas & New Mexico 1.049 121.739
12 SM Energy Texas & New Mexico 529 75.363
13 Ovintiv Texas 732 82.196
14 Crownquest Texas 503 84.862
15 Callon Texas 649 70.002
16 Apache Texas & New Mexico 1.354 57.173
17 Laredo Petroleum Texas 718 52.887
18 Birch Resources Texas 229 56.961
19 Tap Rock Operating Texas & New Mexico 206 59.671
20 Centennial Texas & New Mexico 404 50.229
21 Surge Energy Texas 521 47.758
22 Continental Resources Texas & New Mexico 331 44.758
23 Matador Texas & New Mexico 356 38.437
24 BTA Texas & New Mexico 222 40.963
25 BP Texas 255 35.809
26 Colgate Texas & New Mexico 233 37.008
27 Earthstone Energy Texas 889 26.377
28 Kaiser Francis New Mexico 52 15.806
29 Summit Petroleum Texas 114 22.257
30 Advance Energy Partners Texas & New Mexico 72 17.996
31 Titus Oil & Gas Production Texas & New Mexico 56 26.946
32 PRI Operating Texas 142 21.746
33 Vencer Energy Texas 249 13.689
34 Henry Resources Texas 129 20.022
35 Lario Texas 107 15.842
36 PDC Texas 132 18.686
37 Steward Energy II Texas & New Mexico 165 16.324
38 Highpeak Energy Texas 75 24.244
39 SEM Operating Texas 392 11.621
40 Marathon New Mexico 139 12.626
41 Hibernia Resources III Texas 58 14.877
42 HalcĂłn Resources Texas 100 10.159
43 Percussion Petroleum II Texas 63 9.56
44 Fasken Oil Texas & New Mexico 66 13.584
45 Lime Rock Texas 105 9.104
46 Ring Energy Texas 215 9.501
47 Franklin Mountain Energy LLC New Mexico 29 22.171
48 Riley Exploration Texas & New Mexico 72 8.883
49 Discovery Natural Resources Texas 171 9.642
50 Discovery Operating Texas 45 8.769

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Permian Gas Production

When and how did it start?

The Permian Basin is the second-largest shale gas-producing region in the United States after the Appalachian Basin (which includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio). The gas production in The Permian Basin is a secondary product and the majority of the natural gas production is produced from oil wells, in contrast to the Appalachian Basin where natural gas is produced from natural gas wells.

By the middle of the 1920s, gas was already being harvested from the Permian Basin, but since the middle of 2011, the region’s natural gas output has surged by over 350%. According to the Energy Information Administration, Permian Basin marketed natural gas output topped off a sustained ascent by setting a new annual high in 2021. The region accounted for 17% of U.S. production, up from 5.8% in 2011. The number of rigs working in the Permian Basin has also been increasing at the same time.

In 2022, operators across the Permian have continued to expand their drilling footprint with the addition of nearly 54 rigs since early January. As of the 8th of August, the Permian rig count is now estimated at 329 marking its highest since May 2020.

Gas production over the last 10 years

Daily gas production in the Permian Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Gas Production [Mcf/d]

Top 20 counties [April 2012 - April 2022]

Daily gas production of the top 20 counties in the Permian Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Gas Production [Mcf/d] of the Top 20 Counties
Ranking County State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Mcf/d)
1 Reeves Texas 3.996 3,104,705
2 Eddy (NM) New Mexico 4.461 2,866,293
3 Lea New Mexico 4.115 2,237,735
4 Midland (TX) Texas 4.003 1,798,816
5 Loving Texas 2.589 1,396,590
6 Culberson Texas 904 1,238,553
7 Martin (TX) Texas 2.889 1,094,348
8 Reagan Texas 1.916 908.838
9 Upton Texas 1.841 863.865
10 Howard (TX) Texas 2.082 726.215
11 Glasscock Texas 1.307 526.79
12 Ward (TX) Texas 1.145 354.276
13 Irion Texas 844 338.152
14 Pecos Texas 627 189.592
15 Andrews Texas 902 181.57
16 Crockett (TX) Texas 644 121.158
17 Winkler Texas 404 103.868
18 Yoakum Texas 400 79.202
19 Ector Texas 237 34.304
20 Scurry Texas 94 25.103

Top 50 natural gas operators [April 2012 - April 2022]

Daily gas production of the top 50 operators in the Permian Basin
Horizontal Well Daily Gas Production [Mcf/d] of the Top 50 Operators
Ranking County State Horizontal Well Count April 2022 - Daily Production (Mcf/d)
1 Pioneer Natural Resources Texas 3.269 1,521,495
2 ConocoPhillips Texas & New Mexico 3.438 1,311,029
3 EOG Texas & New Mexico 2.069 1,454,075
4 Exxon Mobil Texas & New Mexico 1.794 1,293,322
5 Devon Energy Texas & New Mexico 1.917 1,248,656
6 Occidental Texas & New Mexico 2.115 1,030,573
7 Coterra Energy Texas & New Mexico 1.049 946.935
8 Chevron Texas & New Mexico 1.274 986.429
9 Diamondback Texas & New Mexico 2.5 893.662
10 Apache Texas & New Mexico 1.354 702.437
11 Mewbourne Oil Texas & New Mexico 912 675.823
12 Endeavor Energy Texas & New Mexico 791 463.916
13 Laredo Petroleum Texas 718 343.816
14 Earthstone Energy Texas 889 309.03
15 Ovintiv Texas 732 272.08
16 BP Texas 255 261.047
17 Crownquest Texas 503 278.691
18 Callon Texas 649 236.97
19 SM Energy Texas & New Mexico 529 238.852
20 Matador Texas & New Mexico 356 185.82
21 Centennial Texas 404 192.801
22 Colgate Texas & New Mexico 233 183.03
23 BTA Texas & New Mexico 222 169.435
24 Tap Rock Operating Texas & New Mexico 206 224.073
25 SEM Operating Texas 392 132.728
26 Vencer Energy Texas 249 112.289
27 Surge Energy Texas 521 123.748
28 Birch Resources Texas 229 145.686
29 PDC Texas 132 125.987
30 Capitan Energy Texas 75 82.649
31 Petro-Hunt Texas 65 85.339
32 RRP Operating Texas 390 81.432
33 Discovery Natural Resources Texas 171 78.683
34 Continental Resources Texas & New Mexico 331 80.078
35 Kaiser Francis New Mexico 52 59.599
36 Rio Oil & Gas Texas 35 70.601
37 Summit Petroleum Texas 114 68.126
38 Titus Oil & Gas Production Texas & New Mexico 56 77.894
39 Zarvona Energy Texas 301 50.182
40 HalcĂłn Resources Texas 100 51.37
41 Triple Crown Resources Texas 130 53.123
42 Scala Energy Texas 24 56.399
43 Marathon New Mexico 139 50.505
44 Advance Energy Partners Texas & New Mexico 72 62.26
45 PRI Operating Texas 142 44.822
46 Maple Energy Holdings Texas 60 29.442
47 Hibernia Resources III Texas 58 55.592
48 Steward Energy II Texas & New Mexico 165 42.872
49 Ameredev Texas & New Mexico 40 54.66
50 Novo Oil & Gas New Mexico 22 72.556

Boom of The Permian basin

The Permian boom transformed America’s place in global energy markets, but over the years it’s also been followed up by busts.

The desert outpost of Midland, with a population of 70,000, became slick with oil money during a boom at the beginning of the 1980s. However, Texas’ boom collapsed as the decade’s worldwide oil glut reached the state, decimating the energy sector. The Spraberry oil field, one of the oldest sites in the Permian Basin, is located in the Midland area. For vertical wells, Spraberry formations were fractured for many years, typically in one or two zones. Drilling vertically while simulating the multistage fracturing common to horizontal wells was a novelty. As a result, the eastern Permian Basin experienced a boom in 2005, reversing years of decline.

Acreage purchases in the Permian ranged from $7,000 to $58,000 per acre by 2016, as the industry was recovering from the biggest oil crash since 1986. According to estimates, some positions sold two years later for as much as $70,000 per acre. Prior to COVID, the Permian Basin oil boom pushed the economies of small towns to levels for which they were unprepared, making it difficult for the region’s infrastructure to cope with the rapid inflow of people and businesses. Large acquisitions were being priced at closer to $10,500 per acre in 2021, following the COVID-19 bust.

Here is a much more detailed timeline of the booms and busts of The Permian Basin:

  • 1920 – The first commercial discovery of oil in West Texas comes with the discovery of the Westbrook field in Mitchell County.
  • 1923 – The famous Santa Rita No. 1 is drilled in Reagan County.
  • 1929 – The Hogan Building opens in downtown Midland, making Midland the headquarters for oil companies and leading to its nickname, the Tall City.
  • 1930 – Activity comes to a near-standstill as the effects of the Great Depression take hold and oil from East Texas floods the market.
  • 1934 – Activity increases as economic recovery takes root.
  • 1942 – Restrictions and controls imposed during World War II stifle development.
  • 1945-49 – The end of the war results in a surge of activity, most significantly the beginning of development of the Spraberry Trend, which leads to a growth spurt for Midland.
  • 1968 – Drilling slumps but holds steady as the 1970s begin.
  • 1973 – The Arab embargo is announced, creating gas lines, concerns about energy supplies and the beginning of a rise in crude oil prices from $4 a barrel to $25 a barrel by 1979, when the shah of Iran was overthrown, causing renewed turmoil in the oil markets. Prices peaked at $37 a barrel in 1980 as Midland saw new office buildings, apartment complexes and homes being built — and a rise in traffic and a housing crunch.
  • 1986 – Oil prices had remained above $25 a barrel until early 1986, when they collapsed to $10 a barrel, sending shock waves through the economies of Midland and Texas. Prices would range from the high teens to $20 a barrel.
  • 2000 – By the dawn of the new millennium, prices began a recovery that saw them soar to a record $147 a barrel in July 2008, bringing new residents, new homes, new businesses — and more traffic and a housing shortage.
  • 2004 – The development of the Wolfberry play is in full swing, attracting new operators and drilling activity not seen since the peak of the boom of the early 1980s.
  • 2009 – Amid the Great Recession, prices fell below $40 a barrel before beginning a year-long recovery that had them rebounding to $70 a barrel by 2010. Moderate prices meant better economics for drilling wells, sending drilling activity even higher.
  • 2012 – Prices exceeded $100 a barrel again before retreating amid concerns about the European and Chinese economies. Operators remain busy developing the Wolfberry and new plays – the Bone Spring and horizontal Wolfcamp – aided by new technology.

Permian major Sub-Basins

The Permian Basin is made up of three major areas: the Midland Basin in the east, the Delaware Basin in the west, and the Central Basin Platform between them.

The Delaware Basin

The Delaware Basin extends over 10,000 square miles and covers a 6.4M acre area, including significant development in the Bone Spring and Wolfcamp, together known as the Wolfbone. It is the deepest of the Permian with the thickest deposits of rock. Primary targets in the basin are the organic-rich units within the Wolfcamp and Bone Spring groups, with the latter having more localized, turbidity-driven deposition.

The Delaware Basin was once overlooked as a “graveyard”, situated in an arid and sparsely inhabited region of the nation. There was not a single producing well within 100 miles of the Delaware Basin in the early 1920s. But when fracking and horizontal drilling technology improved, it became more cost-effective to target unconventional shale deposits in the Delaware Basin. The average cost of a well in Delaware is $6–$8 million, though this has been creeping up recently.

The Midland Basin

The Midland Basin covers 13,000 square miles of West Texas. It spans 20 counties, from Terry and Lynn in the north to Crockett and Schleicher in the south. The majority of the Midland Basin’s tight oil development has taken place at depths between 7,000 and 10,000 feet, especially in the counties of Martin, Midland, Upton, Howard, Glasscock, and Reagan.

The Midland Basin in Texas is made up of numerous stacked hydrocarbon-bearing formations and is a part of the wider Permian Basin, which extends through portions of western Texas and eastern New Mexico. The Midland Basin in particular saw increased production in 2019, which helped the United States produce more crude oil and natural gas than ever before.

The Spraberry tight sand, Wolfcamp Shale (Benches A, B, and C), and Cline Shale are the 3 main Permian-age formations where the Midland Basin’s abundant tight oil deposits are found (also called Bench D of the Wolfcamp Shale).

A new pipeline takeaway capacity out of the Permian Basin went into service in October 2020, bringing Midland natural gas production to an all-time high of 5.8 Bcf/d. Midland natural gas production peaked in late 2020.

The Central Basin Platform

The Central Basin Platform is located in west Texas and a portion of southeastern New Mexico. It’s between the Delaware and Midland Basins, situated in the center of the Permian. It has in many respects served as the foundation of the Permian Basin’s output for a century. The Central Basin Platform has provided about 45% of all the barrels produced so far in the Permian.

The San Andres formation on the Central Basin Platform is a mostly oil-bearing deposit that has been drilled and produced for more than 90 years. It is a high oil-saturated “conventional shallow non-contiguous carbonate reservoir” at a depth of about 5,000′. About 40%, or 12 billion barrels, of the over 30 billion barrels produced in the Permian Basin originated from the San Andres reservoir. Although the San Andres has historically been produced vertically, horizontal drilling has yielded improved production rates.

Upstream Oil & Gas Data​

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  • Production forecasts
  • Vertical and horizontal wells included

 

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