The Permian Basin and Why It Is Great

Posted on Dec 26, 2014 by Croft Productions

I love Texas.  I love that my state gets all four seasons.  I love how diverse the people are.  I love the prideful attitude of people who were blessed enough to be born here.  I appreciate that the transplants were smart enough to get here as soon as they could.  There is great food, art, culture, education, landscape, commerce, FOOTBALL, and other sports too.  And the history of my state is pretty amazing. The Lone Star State will be celebrating its statehood this month, December 29th, 1845.  Compared to some other Southern states like Georgia, who got statehood in 1788, we are a young state.  But with youth comes energy and innovation.  The Permian Basin is a perfect example of just that, Texans knowing a good thing when they see it and not giving up on it.  The Permian Basin is a stand out just like Texas; it’s big and it’s diverse.

Permian Basin Fun Fact Time:

  • The area of West Texas where the basin is located was once land that Comanche Indians roamed.  They were forced out by the US Army in 1875.
  • In 1881 an extension of the Pacific Railway came through the Permian area.  Some of the major cities in the Permian Basin, like Odessa, sprouted up to become stops for the railroad.
  • Because of good grasslands, the area was attractive to ranchers and farmers.
  • There was little surface water for the livestock & plants, so water wells were drilled. Often traces of oil & gas were found.
  • The first commercial well, the Santa Rita No. 1, in Mitchell County, began producing in 1923 and was finally capped in 1990.
  • The city of Midland, which is located in the Permian, ranks as the 2nd wealthiest town in the US

So now let’s discover what is underground and what has made this basin a major player in the oil and gas industry for almost a century.  The Permian Basin is a sedimentary basin that extends beneath an area approximately 250 miles wide and 300 miles long.  Three major components make up the Great Permian Basin.  The Midland Basin is the largest, the Delaware Basin is the second-largest and, the Central Basin Platform is the smallest.   The Great Permian Basin covers a large area of West Texas (38 counties) and South East New Mexico (2 counties).  It got its name because it has one of the world’s thickest deposits of rocks that formed during the Permian geological period.

permian basin

Long, long ago, as in 250-300 million years ago, during the Permian Period, there was a shallow landlocked sea.  It stretched from South Texas, up and around into New Mexico, towards northwest Kansas.  Once the sea retreated south. Eventually, that water evaporated and all kinds of good sedimentation were left there. Over the millions of years more rock, sand, silt, and water run-off added layer upon layer.  Mix all that will pressure from all the layers and a whole lot of time and ‘poof’ you have natural resources.  

Now we all know that there are oil and gas there but did you know we also mine for “potash” in the Permian Basin too?  I know what you are thinking.  What the heck is potash?!  The word “potash” is a trading name for potassium bearing minerals used for fertilizer.   It’s a byproduct of salt also.  Potassium is the 7th most abundant element in the earth’s crust and found in every cell of plants and animals.  About 85% of the American production of potassium has come from one potash district near Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is located in the Delaware Basin.  You can see from the infographic below, potash is another helpful natural resource that comes from the Permian Basin.

potoash and phosphate infograph

The goal I set for myself while writing this week’s blog was to give back story and maybe some less known information on the Permian Basin.  I needed to educate myself about the territory I serve.  What better way than to read and write about a subject? Hopefully, y’all enjoyed the ride.  Obviously I could have gotten really deep (pun intended) with the geographical aspects of the area but there is only so much time in the day.  Let CROFT help you with your natural gas processing needs. 

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