LOVING COUNTY — One of Texas’ oldest oil-producing regions is undergoing a rebirth — again.
But unlike past booms, the latest surge in activity in the storied Permian Basin is being driven by more than just high oil prices
Consider the Bone Spring formation, west of Midland. On a recent day, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. was drilling a well in a deep and complex field that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
It will go two miles down, turn and then go another mile sideways, in pursuit of a narrow band of rock, dense as concrete, that has been clinging stubbornly to its oil for millions of years.
Wells like these are costly – Anadarko said its wells can run upward of $6 million apiece – but they are among the most prolific in West Texas in recent memory.
“We thought 1,000-barrel-per-day wells were a thing of the past out here,” said Bill Martinez, Anadarko’s business adviser for worldwide operations, standing at the foot of the Precision 303 drilling rig at a remote site 30 miles west of Kermit. But since The Woodlands-based oil company began drilling the north end of Bone Spring in 2009, it has seen them routinely.
Bone Spring is one of several emerging oil plays that are helping slow down years of declines in the state’s oil output, luring major producers back to the region and spawning the latest oil boom in West Texas.
They are part of a comebackfor the Permian Basin, a vast layer of Permian-era sedimentary rock underlying West Texas and southeastern New Mexico that has been pumping out huge volumes of crude since the 1920s and still produces one in five barrels of the nation’s oil.
“There always seems to be one more place where the oil is hiding,” said H. Scott Hamlin, research scientist associate at the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology.