From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
For more information, please contact the author.

Bureau Seminar, April 30, 2004

Play Analysis and Digital Portfolio of Major Oil Reservoirs
in the Permian Basin

Shirley P. Dutton


The Permian Basin of west Texas and southeast New Mexico has produced >30 Bbbl of oil through 2000, and it remains one of the largest petroleum-producing basins in the U.S. In 2002, it produced 17% of the total U.S. oil production and contained 22 percent of the U.S. proved oil reserves. An estimated 29 percent (17.6 Bbbl) of future oil reserve growth in the U.S. will occur in the Permian Basin.

Because of the substantial amount of oil remaining in the basin, a new oil-play portfolio was developed by the Bureau of Economic Geology and the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources as part of the DOE Preferred Upstream Management Practices (PUMP) Program. Thirty-two oil plays were defined on the basis of reservoir stratigraphy, lithology, depositional environment, and structural and tectonic setting. Each of the 1,339 significant-sized reservoirs that had cumulative production of >1 MMbbl (1.59 ´ 105 m3) through 2000 was assigned to a play and mapped in a Geographic Information System (GIS). Play maps are linked to a database listing cumulative production and other reservoir information. The portfolio contains a summary description of each play, including key reservoir characteristics and successful reservoir-development methods.