Permian Basin

Permian Basin
Pioneer's Geological Focus

The Permian Basin is composed of multiple uplifts and basins that formed during the Pennsylvanian and early Permian ages. Within its Midland Basin lies the Spraberry field. Discovered in 1943, the field began producing in 1949 and encompasses eight counties in West Texas. It is approximately 150 miles long and 75 miles wide at its widest point.

Pioneer operates in the conventional Spraberry formation and the unconventional Spraberry/Wolfcamp shales.


Our Position as of 12/31/2013

825,000 - Approximate Gross Acres

432 MMBOE - Proved Reserves

9.6 BBOE - Additional Net Recoverable Resource Potential from Spraberry/Wolfcamp Shales

115 MBOEPD - Produced in Q4 2014

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West Texas has always been instrumental to Pioneer.

It’s where we began operations in the early 1980s, where we’ve grown our largest leasehold and where we are now exploring several game-changing shale formations.

Pioneer’s 825,000-acre position in the Spraberry oil field in the Permian Basin was built over decades of property acquisitions, mergers and exploratory efforts. Historically we focused on conventional vertical drilling and production, but in 2010 our strategy began to shift to unconventional operations.  With advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology, we now target previously untapped hydrocarbons in the field’s multiple shale zones, or intervals.

These intervals comprise the oil-rich Spraberry and Wolfcamp shales, collectively referred to as “Spraberry/Wolfcamp,” and are the primary focus of Pioneer’s Permian operations today.


Spraberry/Wolfcamp Shale Intervals

Oil and gas resources are produced from multiple formations, including the Spraberry, the Jo Mill, the Dean, the Wolfcamp, the Atoka, the Strawn and the Mississippian.

Depths range from 6,700 to 11,300 feet.

Oil produced is West Texas Intermediate Sweet, and gas produced is casinghead gas that has a 1,400 BTU average energy content.

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Currently Targeting

Northern acreage:

  • Wolfcamp A, B and D (85%)
  • Middle Spraberry, Jo Mill and Lower Spraberry (15%)

Southern acreage:

  • Wolfcamp B (~66%)
  • Wolfcamp A, C and D (~33%)
World’s Second Largest Resource  

The discovery of the Spraberry/Wolfcamp shale resource potential has helped to re-ignite industry activity in the Permian Basin. Production from the Midland Basin, located within the greater Permian Basin, has increased more than 475,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOEPD) since 2009, and horizontal rigs now account for more than 40  percent of all drilling rigs in the area.

Our geoscience team, which evaluates extensive geologic data from thousands of existing wells and successful drilling results to date, estimates the Spraberry/Wolfcamp contains more than 75 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE). This ranks it as the largest U.S. oil field and the second largest oil field in the world.

Pioneer, the most active driller and largest producer in the Spraberry/Wolfcamp, has a significant percentage of that resource potential: approximately 9.6 BBOE.

Many Pioneer horizontal wells hold the record for highest initial production rates in several of the shale intervals, and early production data indicates that some single-interval wells have resource potential of more than 1 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBOE). 


Horizontal Development  

Results from horizontal wells we drilled in 2012 – targeting the Wolfcamp intervals and the Jo Mill interval – revolutionized our approach to oil and liquids recovery. A significant portion of Pioneer’s 2013 drilling activity was moved from vertical drilling to more capital-efficient horizontal drilling, and it became a year of delineating acreage and appraising several Wolfcamp intervals.

In 2013, Pioneer closed a joint interest transaction to fund horizontal development in our southern acreage position. Comprised of approximately 200,000 net acres, this area is known as Pioneer’s Southern Wolfcamp asset, or the Southern Wolfcamp joint venture area. The remaining acres in our leasehold form our Northern Spraberry/Wolfcamp asset.

The Wolfcamp shale’s true resource potential began to surface once we began producing from three highly successful Wolfcamp B wells in early 2013. They indicated tremendous opportunity in the northern asset, notably on Pioneer’s D.L. Hutt lease in Midland County. Wolfcamp B interval wells have also prospered in Pioneer’s southern asset, where positive production data has helped us identify higher-return areas of Upton and Reagan counties. Further activity throughout Pioneer’s acreage continues to support strong estimated ultimate recoveries (EURs) from the Wolfcamp B as well as the Wolfcamp D intervals.

The Spraberry shales, which are shallower and have lower reservoir pressures than the deeper Wolfcamp intervals, are comprised of the Lower Spraberry, Jo Mill, Middle Spraberry and Upper Spraberry. The Lower Spraberry interval calculates to have the most oil-in-place in the Basin and is a growing part of Pioneer’s horizontal development program. Further appraisals of the Middle Spraberry and Jo Mill intervals are underway to confirm their potential.



Operating Efficiencies  

Our engineering, drilling, completions and production teams are continuously improving operations. Gaining efficiencies remains a key focus, especially as we strive to deliver production growth, reduce costs and lead the Basin in safety, compliance and environmental stewardship. Pioneer’s Spraberry/Wolfcamp initiatives include:

  • Increasing use of multi-well pad drilling – By drilling multiple wells per pad, Pioneer is reducing its surface footprint. 
  • Enhancing our gas processing and midstream partnerships – Pioneer expects a new 200 million cubic feet per day gas processing plant will be required every 12 to 18 months to accommodate the industry’s increased shale development.  
  • Expanding our integrated service companies – Pioneer’s pumping services, well services and sand mining companies will continue to refine operations to support our growth initiatives.
  • Securing long-term supplies of non-potable water – Reducing fresh water usage remains top priority among Pioneer’s water management initiatives. We are piloting several water recycling technologies, evaluating brackish water reservoirs not suited for drinking or agriculture, and are actively pursuing partnerships with local cities and municipalities to source non-drinkable wastewater.

Additionally, we are applying drilling and completion techniques learned from our Eagle Ford Shale operations to improve recoveries through downspacing (in which we reduce the planned spacing between new wells to increase recovery) and increased proppant usage. Pioneer is reducing costs and gaining efficiencies by reducing fluid volume pumped during the fracture stimulation process as well.



The Next Ten Years  
Pioneer is committed to optimal long-term resource development, while remaining an industry leader in safety, compliance and environmental stewardship.</
Pioneer is committed to optimal long-term resource development, while remaining an industry leader in safety, compliance and environmental stewardship.

Pioneer is currently transitioning from a horizontal appraisal program that began in 2013 to a horizontal development program that will exponentially grow over the next decade. By 2018, we expect to be operating more than 50 horizontal rigs in the Basin and more than double production, when compared to 2013 rates.

To remain an industry leader while achieving this, as well as continuing our vertical drilling obligations and efficiencies, we are deepening our commitment to West Texas communities and operators.

Pioneer’s ten-year growth plan will focus on optimizing horizontal development of the field and identifying future requirements for gas processing, marketing, field infrastructure, water, oilfield services, electricity and roadways.

About Pioneer

Pioneer Natural Resources is a large independent exploration and production company that delivers competitive and sustainable results.

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Pioneer aims to make the Permian Basin a better place to live and work for local residents by giving back to the community in a variety of ways.

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