A certain rock formation that lies below the earth's surface in West Texas has been attracting drilling companies since around 2006. This year's University Land sale proved that it's still in high demand. Big 2 attended that sale. And after learning it ranked among the top five sales in University Lands' history, we were curious to find out what brought in so much business. "There's been a lot of interest in the Wolfberry Play," said Rick Doehne, University Lands geologist.
The Wolfberry play has been called one of the most important discoveries in the history of West Texas oil production. But it's success didn't happen overnight.
Before a number of factors came together to make recovering oil in the Wolfberry Play possible, drillers relied heavily on the Sprayberry formation. Located roughly a mile and a half underneath the ground in certain areas of West Texas, the silt and sandstone is permiable enough to almost always produce a commercial well. The only problem is that Sprayberry wells typically only produce around ten barrels a day.
Hungry for more, some local oilmen decided to take a risk and drill a little deeper into the formation known as the Wolfcamp. And that's where they ran into a problem. "You've got stacks of horizons of oil that's trapped in less permiable rock and there was really no way to commercially get that oil out of that tight rock, " says Keith Maberry, petroleum engineer for Henry Resources.
The Wolfcamp is packed tight with limestone, which made extracting oil with the fracing techniques that were being used at the time next to impossible.
But the industry was well aware of the fact that the Wolfcamp contained oil. A select few were determined to find a way to get it out.
After roughly three decades of hits, misses and a lot of frustration, technological advances to extract the oil were made, along with a lot of geological research helped find some of the most promising areas tucked between the Spraberry and Wolfcamp formations.
In 2005, word had spread that Henry Resources, who's credited for playing one of the biggest roles in the Wolfberry's success, had leased 200,000 acres of land across ten counties. By 2006, the Wolfberry Play was attracting oil companies across America.
While the Wolfberry is only one of several formations attracting drillers today, it's still said to be one of the most important discoveries in the history of West Texas oil. Not only did it give a struggling industry inspiration to find new techniques to recover oil, it also gave local companies hope to keep searching for more.
Coming up in next week's Big 2 Energy Report, we'll speak with a well-known West Texas wildcatter who invested a lot in the Wolfberry Play, despite an industry that was convinced it wasn't possible.