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Permian Basin Production Reaches New Record in 2017

In 2017, operators produced some 815 million barrels of oil in the Permian Basin. (Image courtesy of IHS Markit)

New research says oil production in the Permian Basin reached record-breaking levels in 2017.

This year at least 815 million barrels have been produced out of the Permian Basin, according to a new report from research firm IHS Markit. That total surpasses the previous record of 790 million barrels set in 1973.

Reed Olmstead is with IHS Markit. He says, the production record speaks to the Permian’s resiliency. “It doesn’t surprise me that we’ve seen such growth and supply come out of the Permian Basin. But the pace at which we’ve achieved it is impressive," says Olmstead.

Recent innovations like hydraulic fracturing  have allowed operators to extract resources they couldn’t get to before. According to the research, in 1973 operators produced an average of 2.16 million barrels per day. This year, that average was at roughly 2.75 million barrels. Olmstead says the continued surge in Permian production will continue to a new all-time high of 10.5 million barrels per day by the end of next year. “Looking in to ’19, ’20, ’21, we’ve unlocked this thing and it’s going to blowing and going for years.”

Earlier this year, researchers with IHS said they believed the Permian still holds as much as 70 billion barrels of crude waiting to be tapped. The billions of “recoverable resources” IHS identified in their research represent crude that could be extracted with current technology. Generally, shale drillers are only able to extract anywhere from 4 to 6 percent of crude stuck underground.

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.