The U.S. Geological Survey may have found the largest untouched oil source in the U.S., it announced on Nov. 15.
The deposit, which was discovered in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp portion of Texas' Permian Basin, is estimated to contain roughly 20 billion barrels of oil and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, notes the USGS release.
"The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more," USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Walter Guidroz said in the release. "Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable, and that's why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world."
Business Insider estimates the unearthed deposits are worth roughly $900 billion, based on an average price for that type of crude of $45 per barrel.
The Permian Basin, which yields some of the highest returns of oil and gas in the nation, has seen a tremendous boom with the popularity of new shale-drilling technology systems, including traditional horizontal oil drilling -- with more than 3,000 horizontal oil wells already completed in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp section alone -- and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," a controversial technique that uses high-pressure liquids to fracture the earth and extract gas and oil from shale rock.
The Permian Basin, which has been producing oil since the 1920s, is such an oil-rich region that the industry has made a profit off of the West Texas and New Mexico portions of the basin for the last two and a half years despite a major drop in oil prices, notes Bloomberg Markets. Oil production from the wells in the Wolfcamp region yield as much as 85 percent crude oil.