Chamber of Commerce   Economic Development

Big Lake Oil Industry

west texas energy consortium county map


What is the Wolfcamp Shale?  The Wolfcamp Shale is a shale formation located in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico. The Wolfcamp Shale is an oil & natural gas zone located below the Spraberry Formation which is also an oil field.  Directly below the Spraberry oil play, we find the Dean sandstone and then the Wolfcamp oil shale formation.  There is a conflict between operators as to what to actually call the Wolfcamp Shale…some people refer to it as the Wolfberry Trend because it’s right below the Spraberry Trend.  Other common terms for the Wolfcamp Shale are the Wolfcamp Formation, and even the Wolfberry which is a combination of the Wolfcamp and Spraberry.  The main term is the Wolfcamp Shale which is a non-organic shale.

For decades, drilling companies have been drilling the Spraberry field which was discovered in 1943 by a farmer in Dawson County.  Production didn’t really start until 1953 in Midland, Texas where companies drilled the Spraberry Formation as well as the Dean Formation.  Due to advances in technology, companies have been tapping into the Wolfcamp Shale and are having huge success.  The Wolfcamp Oil Play has had so much success, there is a giant land grab of mineral rights land leases going on.  For the most part, though, these exploration companies already own mineral rights leases from the Permian Basin itself.  The Wolfcamp Oil discovery is even causing exploration companies to rework old wells now that horizontal drilling has caught fire.  There seems to be a ton of activity here which is similar to the Eagle Ford Shale, Granite Wash, Niobrara Shale and Bakken Shale.

How much oil is in the Wolfcamp Oil Field?  Estimates have the Spraberry Shale holding up to 10 billion barrels of oil as well as 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  It is way too early to tell how much oil is in the Wolfcamp but we are guessing over 1 billion barrels. The hot spots of the Wolfcamp seem to be in Upton, Midland, Andrews, Irion, Reagan, Loving, Pecos, Winkler and Howard counties. The Wolfcamp Formation is in its early phase so we are sure we will be adding more to the list as companies drill more wells.

It is important to note that on the Western side of the Wolfcamp near Loving County, TX, we have the Bone Spring Formation right above the Wolfcamp.  The Bone Spring Shale is also highly active right now and is three different zones that are producing oil.

So, in short, In the Permian Basin, the top layer (to the east) is the Spraberry Trend, below the Spraberry is the Dean Formation , and  then the Wolfcamp (Wolfcamp Trend).  To the west is the Bone Spring formations (consists of three zones with the first being the Avalon Shale) with the Wolfcamp Shale below the Bone Springs.  A lot of different zones are coming into play.  A lot of oil left to be found!! All possible because of horizontal drilling.




CHESAPEAKE ENERGY: Chesapeake has built a strong position of approximately 290,000 net acres of leasehold in four Permian Basin unconventional liquids plays: the Avalon Shale, Bone Spring, Wolfcamp and Spraberry in West Texas and in southern New Mexico.  The company has drilled and completed 100 gross wells to date in these four plays. The company plans to increase its operated rig count as it continues its transition away from natural gas drilling to more liquids-rich drilling.

EOG RESOURCES:  In the West Texas Permian Basin, EOG increased drilling activity in the Wolfcamp during the second half of 2011 in preparation for a more active year in 2012.EOG reported success from the upper Wolfcamp zone.EOG planned to operate a four-rig drilling program in the Wolfcamp during 2012 and continues to have success.

CONOCOPHILLIPS:  ConocoPhillips announced they have started an acreage position in the Wolfcamp. They have added 33,000 acres in the emerging Wolfcamp shale plaay in the Midland Basin.

PETROHAWK ENERGY:  Petrohawk Energy began building an acreage position in the Permian Basin in the second half of 2010, and has acquired or has committed to acquire approximately 325,000 net acres. The company’s core position includes acreage in the Midland Basin, where the primary target is the Lower Wolfcamp, and the acreage in the Delaware Basin, where the primary targets are the Lower Wolfcamp Shale, Bone Springs Sands and Avalon Shale.

PIONEER NATURAL RESOURCES:  In the horizontal Wolfcamp Shale play, the Company believes it has significant resource potential within its acreage based on its extensive geologic data covering the Wolfcamp A. B. C. and D intervals and its drilling results to date.  Pioneer is the largest acreage holder in the play with more than 400,000 prospective acres.  Pioneer has made Big Lake, Reagan County, their Wolfcamp headquarters.

DEVON ENERGY:  Devon Energy began drilling on the 92,000 net acre Wolfcamp shale established in the Southern Midland Basin. They brought four Wolfcamp wells online with the best well delivering a 24 hour IP of 935 barrels of oil equivalent per day.  The results of the wells, combined with industry results around their position, give them confidence and consistent economic results in this play.

LINN ENERGY: Linn Energy operated approximately 800 wells and produces more than 5,100 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the Permian Basin.  Linn has identified 165 Wolfberry drilling locations, which equates to a three year inventory at current spacing.  Results in this area have exceeded expectation from our acquisition model and the company will continue to target this area for additional acquisition opportunities.

SANDRIDGE ENERGY:  SandRidge currently operates 17 rigs in the Permian Basin. The company has identified approximately 8,100 low risk drilling locations and will drill approximately 518 wells in 2010 and 804 wells are planned for 2011.

APACHE:  In the Southern Midland Basin, Apache 20,000 acres in the Wolfcamp shale play in Irion County, which brings our total to 25,000 acres. This is addition to 31,000 acres in the form of BP leasehold they have in the same area.  During 2012, Apache plans to drill up to 6 horizontal wells on these properties and believe there is potential for up to 150 locations, horizontal wells in the area.

There are many companies not included on the above list and we apologize if we left you out.  It is stated that more energy companies are coming with anticipated success.  The Permian Basin and Reagan County have a very bright future for several years ahead.

(In Alphabetical Order) 

Apache                                     Barrow-Shaver Resources Co.     Bettis, Boyle & Stovall
Chaparral Energy                 Chevron MidContenint, LP       Enduring Resources, LLC
Endeavor Energy Resources      Energen Resources Corp         EOG Resources, Inc.
FIML Natural Resources              JM Cox Resources, LP              King Energy Resources
Laredo Petroleum-Dallas            Parsley Energy Operations    Prime Operating
Pioneer Natural Resources         Sundown Energy, LP                Thompson, J. Cleo



Drilling Permits 2008-2016

Source: Big Lake Wildcat