Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Permian Basin Joint Industry Project helping producers map geology in tight formations

For immediate release

San Antonio – April 3, 2017 – Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) will launch the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project next month during a series of meetings with member companies in West Texas.

The first phase will expand on SwRI’s initial investigations of deformation and mechanical stratigraphy in exposed strata in and around the Permian Basin. Over the next two years, the consortium will combine new geological outcrop data with subsurface investigations, allowing members to make more informed decisions for oil production.

“With burgeoning activity focused on unconventional reservoirs, our investigations will provide data to help producers plan for the many complications in tight oil plays,” said Dr. David Ferrill, an Institute scientist at SwRI.

The Permian Basin contains large thicknesses of self-sourced reservoir strata with very low permeability. Natural fractures can improve extraction by providing permeability to and connectivity within the reservoir. However, fractures can also have detrimental effects as “thief zones” that may have leaked hydrocarbons from the reservoir, or as permeable pathways to aquifers that can lead to excess water production, or as permeable zones that siphon off drilling mud and cause drilling complications, Ferrill added.

“Sometimes fractures have such high permeability that, when you try to reach a reservoir target, you lose mud into fracture zones, causing a loss of circulation that prevents producers from achieving their drilling objectives,” Ferrill said.

By studying outcrops and the tectonic events that formed and shaped the Permian Basin, the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project can help operators determine whether deformation is likely to be present in a reservoir to inform ideal drilling azimuths and landing zones or target intervals.

The initial kickoff meeting of the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project is set for May 2017 in San Angelo and Van Horn. It will include field trips to study geology in the eastern, southern, and western parts of the basin.

“It is worthwhile for member companies to join early and be represented at the kickoff meeting so that they can influence the focus of research,” Ferrill said.

Membership cost is $100,000 for the two-year initial phase. Members will receive written reports, presentations, posters, data files, ArcGIS® and PETREL “projects,” and have the opportunity to participate in field meetings. Project results will also include presentation summaries and as well as data files and documents summarizing field studies, conclusions, and annual reports.

For companies interested in learning more about Permian Basin geology, SwRI also offers custom field seminars on how tectonics and mechanical stratigraphy influence natural deformation. The courses explore structural geology around the eastern, southern, and western margins of the Permian Basin. Visit to learn more about setting up a seminar. Course participants do not have to be members of the Permian Basin Joint Industry Project.

The JIP builds on experience gained from the Eagle Ford Joint Industry Project. Since 2011, the Eagle Ford JIP has offered insights into natural deformation and the role that mechanical stratigraphy and tectonics play in controlling distribution and style of faulting, fracturing, and deformation in a self-sourced reservoir.

For more information, contact Robert Crowe, (210) 522-4630, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.