Potential for additional oil recovery in Texas
Texas has long been a major oil province, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the historic production of crude oil in the United States. Texas now holds less than 30 percent of the Nation's proven reserves and less than 15 percent of its estimated as-yet-undiscovered oil. Discovery and conventional production of oil in Texas have peaked, but more than 100 billion barrels of oil now classed largely as unrecoverable still exist in Texas. This oil, even with the geologic, technical, and economic constraints on its recovery, constitutes a major target for future production. To date [early 1983], some 156 billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Texas. About 46 billion barrels have been produced, and 8 billion barrels exist as proven reserves; thus, current estimated ultimate recovery is 54 billion barrels, or a little less than 35 percent recovery of the in-place discovered oil. Estimates of how much oil is left for future discovery vary, although nearly 20 billion barrels in place is a reasonable mean of the estimates. Consequently, Texas oil is thought to total about 176 billion barrels, of which an estimated ultimate conventional recovery is on the order of 60 billion barrels. Approximately 116 billion barrels of the 176 billion barrel total is now classed, at least by most conventional means, as unrecoverable. A portion of this large volume is a target for different or combined forms of unconventional recovery. No one knows how much of the now unrecoverable oil in Texas will ultimately be recovered. Recent estimates range from as little as 5 percent to as much as 40 percent. Undoubtedly, however, the long-term future of Texas oil production, including moderation of the decline of conventional production, hinges on our ability to recover oil now classed as unrecoverable. Future progress will depend increasingly on our technical expertise in enhancing recovery of already known oil and less on new field wildcatting. Such is the direction in which we are already headed.