The Permian Basin of West Texas and southeast New Mexico is one of the largest and most active oil basins in the United States, with the entire basin accounting for approximately 15 percent of total United States oil production. Our strong position in the Permian Basin, where we account for approximately 16 percent of all oil produced, makes Oxy the No. 1 oil producer in Texas.
Approximately two-thirds of Oxy’s Permian Basin oil production is from fields that actively employ carbon dioxide (CO2) flooding, an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technique in which CO2 is injected into oil reservoirs, causing the trapped oil to flow more easily and efficiently. Oxy is an industry leader in applying this technology, which can increase ultimate oil recovery by 10 to 25 percent in the fields where it is employed.
In the Permian, we operate more active CO2 floods than any other CO2 flood operator. Each year, we inject more than 600 billion cubic feet of CO2 into oil reservoirs in the Permian, making Oxy one of the largest injectors of CO2 for EOR in the United States and a world leader in this technology.
In addition to boosting oil production, CO2 EOR can have environmental benefits. The CO2 circulates within a “closed loop”; over time, virtually all of the injected CO2 ultimately becomes permanently and safely trapped in the underground oil reservoir. CO2 EOR therefore is a means of permanent geologic storage of carbon dioxide. This could significantly reduce future greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
To ensure an adequate supply of CO2 for our EOR operations in the Permian, Oxy relies upon several sources. These include carbon dioxide produced from the Oxy-operated Bravo Dome field in northeastern New Mexico, and additional supplies from methane fields in the southwestern Permian.
The Century Plant in Pecos County, Texas, further expands Oxy’s EOR infrastructure in the Permian Basin. The plant processes natural gas with high-CO2 content, resulting in methane gas for the market as well as a major source of CO2 for Oxy’s Permian operations.
Oxy’s non-CO2 operations are among its fastest-growing assets. Over one-third of Oxy’s Permian production is from fields in the primary phase of their life cycle. The primary phase is the first stage of oil production, in which a well is drilled into a reservoir and natural energy displaces the oil from the reservoir into the wellbore and up to the surface. The primary phase includes exploration and drilling, including horizontal drilling – a method Oxy frequently uses in its Permian operations.
Since beginning significant delineation and development efforts in 2010, production from these non-CO2 assets has increased by more than 25 percent. Oxy’s 2.5 million net acres in the Permian contain new plays such as the Avalon shale, Bone Spring, Wolfbone/Wolfcamp, Cline shale, Wolfberry and Delaware.