Back to Top
Skip to main content
Integrated Synthesis of the Permian Basin: Data and Models for Recovering Existing and Undiscovered Oil Resources from the Largest Oil-Bearing Basin in the United States
Project Number

The overall objective was to collect and synthesize available data on the hydrocarbon-bearing geological systems in the Permian Basin and distribute data in readily usable formats to scientists, engineers, managers, and decision makers in the oil and gas industry.


Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas, Austin, TX

State of Texas


The Permian Basin is the largest producing basin in the United States, still containing as much as 30 billion barrels of remaining mobile oil. A long-standing problem for companies seeking to recover this resource has been the difficulty of access to data and the knowledge of how to use the data. No modern, integrated syntheses of Permian Basin geologic data was previously available. This project has made possible the delivery of large volumes of Permian basin reservoir and basin data and interpretations to industry, academia, and the general public.


This project was designed to expand the geological knowledge base of the Permian Basin, the largest oil producing region in the United States, and make this information readily accessible to operators so they can rapidly and effectively determine the best focus for exploitation effort and dollars. Access to these data will decrease risk, increase efficiency, and be an important basis and incentive for new drilling.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

Project data and interpretations have been delivered in three formats: 1) detailed, written summaries of Paleozoic depositional and reservoir systems in the Permian Basin; 2) digital files of graphic and numerical data from wells and fields, and 3) a spatially integrated database of depositional, stratigraphic, lithologic, and petrophysical properties in selected stratigraphic horizons.

Major tasks included the following:

  • Preparation of written summary reports on the stratigraphy, depositional and diagenetic processes, and reservoir development of major plays and depositional systems.
  • Development of play-based databases of Permian Basin reservoirs and stratigraphic horizons in geographic information system (GIS) format.
  • Dissemination of data to industry and the public (technology transfer).

Comprehensive reports on the depositional, stratigraphic, diagenetic, structural architecture and history, and reservoir development of the Paleozoic section in the Permian Basin were prepared based on integration, interpretation, and synthesis of existing and new data. These reports comprise individual chapters on each depositional episode of the Paleozoic section in the Permian Basin and have been made available in digital format. Rreports are supplemented by regional maps of facies, thickness, and structure; regional and reservoir-specific cross sections; illustrations of core facies and cyclicity; reservoir and depositional models; depictions of wireline log character; seismic models; lists of representative cores for study; comprehensive lists of published papers; and extensive reference lists.

Selected stratigraphic successions have been analyzed in greater detail to define and portray spatial interrelationships among depositional, structural, and diagenetic properties, and reservoir distribution. Source data (comprising wireline logs, seismic surveys, cores, core data, outcrop data and models, and reservoir data and models) have been compiled, interpreted, and integrated and then compiled into a readily accessible GIS format for delivery and use. Many data were assembled in a spatially integrated database in GIS format for efficient transfer and use.

Current Status

(January 2010) 
Working in cooperation with NETL, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have produced the most up-to-date analysis available regarding geological controls on reservoir development in the Permian Basin—the largest oil producing region in the United States. Cumulative oil production from the Permian Basin is over thirty billion barrels of oil with an estimated thirty billion barrels of mobile oil remaining. Fourteen selected reservoir plays in the basin now have fully illustrated reports that include critical summaries of published literature integrated with new unpublished research conducted during the project. The data, now available for download from the project website (, will decrease risk, increase efficiency, and provide an important basis and incentive for new drilling. This project is completed.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

$258,571 (24 percent of total)

Contact Information

NETL - Virginia Weyland ( or 281-494-2517)
University of Texas - Stephen Ruppel ( or 512-471-2965)

Additional Information

Final Project Report [PDF-74.9MB]