Unexpectedly Intriguing!
May 10, 2018

The Permian Basin is a booming shale-oil producing region in the United States, which is located in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. According to a 24 April 2018 article in Bloomberg, the region could very well grow into the largest oil patch on Earth in the next decade.

The Permian shale play is all about setting records. Now, the region may even become the world’s largest oil patch over the next decade.

Output in the basin is forecast to reach 3.18 million barrels a day in May, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest since the agency began compiling records in 2007. By 2023, the basin may produce 4 million barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency. The Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia is currently the world’s biggest oil field, with capacity of 5.8 million barrels a day, according to a 2017 EIA report.

This is all thanks to the size of the oil deposits, coupled with increased technology and efficiencies. “The technology is the biggest driver,” said Rob Thummel, managing director at Tortoise, which handles $16 billion in energy-related assets. “The basin in and of itself could end up being the largest oil field in the world, even bigger than Ghawar in Saudi Arabia."

By contrast, top-producing members of OPEC such as Iran and Iraq pump less than 5 million barrels a day. Iran produced about 3.81 million barrels day in March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“If the Permian was part of OPEC, it would be the fourth-largest OPEC member, right behind Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq,” Thummel said. “By the end of the year, the Permian probably overtakes Iran.”

We've been playing with NASA's Worldview application, and specifically with the filters that allow access to the nighttime lights imagery that NASA has created for its "Black Marble" projects for 2012 and 2016, and also the real-time imagery captured by NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. In the following animated image, we'll show you how nighttime lights in the Permian Basin has changed from 2012 to 2016 and then on to a snapshot from 26 April 2018, which makes for a nice companion image to go along with Bloomberg's article.

Permian Basin - US - West Texas, Southeast New Mexico - Source: NASA Worldview - Snapshots on 2012-04-26, 2016-04-26 and 2018-04-26

That's what an oil boom looks like from space!

Previously on Political Calculations

Previously, we've focused on regions of the world where real economic output declined, where the nighttime lights dimmed from an earlier point in time to a later one.

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