June 23, 2020: Book review published

Lowell Waite recently published a book review in the journal International Geology Review, entitled “Anatomy of a Paleozoic basin: the Permian Basin, USA, Volumes 1 and 2.  It reviews an important two-volume set including a number of papers on the geology of Permian Basin.  The volumes were co-published by the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (Report of Investigations 285) and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (Memoir 118).  Volume 1 was released in 2019, and Volume 2 in 2020.

These volumes cover a wide range of topics, providing updated information on the tectonics, stratigraphic units, and paleontology/biostratigraphy of the region.  The two-volume set is now part of the PBRL library.

The full review can be accessed in the Presentations and Data portion of the PBRL website.

June 1, 2020: Spraberry detrital zircon paper published

After a long (> 2 yr) and somewhat arduous process, the PBRL is proud to announce publication of a new paper entitled “Detrital zircon provenance evidence for an early Permian longitudinal river flowing into the Midland Basin of west Texas,” published in the peer-reviewed journal International Geology Review.

The paper provides evidence of a large, axial, early Permian river system draining the Appalachian foreland basin and northern Gondwanan provinces, delivering detrital clastic sediments directly into the Permian Basin from the east and south. as part of the giant Spraberry submarine fan complex.  Previous models have emphasized a northern source for Spraberry sand- and siltstones.  A large axial river system from the south would have delivered copious amounts of nutrients into the Permian Basin sea, fostering organic productivity.  This may have been an important factor in the enrichment of Permian organic material within the basin and ultimately, in the production of world-class hydrocarbon source rocks.

A copy of the paper is posted in “Presentations and Data” section of the PBRL website

May 12, 2020 San Andres presentation now available

“Facies and Stratigraphy of the San Andres Formation (Mid Permian) Petroleum Province, Northwest Shelf of the Permian Basin, West Texas: A Resurgent Play,” by Kevin Hiss and David Williamson, is now available on the Presentations and Data Tab.

This is from an oral presentation given by UTD M.S. candidate Kevin Hiss at the 2020 GSA South-Central Meeting held this past March in Ft. Worth, TX.  Kevin’s co-author is UTD Alumni and PBRL Industrial Associate David  Williamson.  It discusses the geology and petroleum reservoir character of the San Andres Formation on the Northwest Shelf of Texas (Yoakum and Cochran counties), comparing the historical main pay zone of the giant San Andres fields with the current resurgent effort to extract residual oil using horizontal drilling and completion technology.

A copy of the presentation may be accessed here:

March 2020: PBRL has a large presence at the recent GSA South Central Meeting in Ft. Worth

The UTD Permian Basin Research Lab had a large and successful presence at the recent GSA South Central Meeting held in Ft. Worth, Texas, on March 9 – 11, 2020.

Bob Stern and Lowell Waite, along with Lily Pfeifer-Johnson and Alicia Bonar of the University of Oklahoma, co-chaired Technical Session T8, entitled “Permian of the South-Central U.S.: Land and Sea.”  This session included 10 presentations on various aspects of the Permian geology of the greater south-central US region, focusing on the relationship between Permian continental and marine environments, climate, tectonics, and magmatism.

Lowell Waite, along with co-authors Bob Stern (UTD) and Chris Scotese (Northwestern University) opened the session with a presentation entitled “One if by Land, Two if by Sea: Permian of the U.S. South Central region.  This talk provided a broad overview of Permian chronology and secular trends (global geologic themes).

Kevin Hiss, UTD graduate student at the PBRL, along with co-author and UTD alumnus David Williamson (Monadnock Resources), presented a talk entitled “Facies and Stratigraphy of the San Andres Formation (Middle Permian) Petroleum Province, Northwest Shelf of the Permian Basin, West Texas: A Resurgent Play.”  Kevin’s presentation highlighted the geologic setting and development of the San Andres carbonate reservoir, discussing the application of recent horizontal drilling and completion technology along the margins of established giant San Andres oil fields in Yoakum and Cochran counties, Texas.

A copy of the Waite et al. presentation will be posted on the PBRL website.  The Hiss and Williamson presentation is currently subject to a non-disclosure agreement, but a version of this will be posted if available.

October 22, 2019: Presentation to Halff Energy

Bob Stern and Lowell Waite visited the offices of Halff Energy in Dallas on the morning of October 22 and presented “The Wolfcamp Shale Play of the Midland Basin: A Magnificent Beast.”  The presentation was geared for non-geologists and reviewed some basics of petroleum geoscience, focusing on the importance and magnitude of the Permian Basin petroleum system and Wolfcamp Shale in particular.  In attendance were all four members of the Halff Energy staff as well as three Halff family members/owners and one invited guest.

Halff Energy, founded in 1985, is a growth-oriented general partnership owned by eight descendants of Henry M. Halff (1874-1934), a prominent west Texas rancher.  Their current interests comprise approximately 16,000 acres in Crockett, Midland, Reagan, and Upton counties.  More information on Halff Energy may be found here:

We thank owner Bro Halff for the invitation to speak to the Halff Energy team, and to Phillip Shawn, Land Manager, and Linda Waite, Accounting Manager, for the accommodations and providing lunch.  We are happy to tailor presentations to a wide variety of audiences, both technical and non- technical, in order to provide information on the “magnificent beast” that is the Permian Basin.

Oct. 15, 2019: Presentation to SIPES Dallas

Lowell Waite presented “Stratigraphic framework of the Wolfcamp – Spraberry of the Midland Basin” at the October luncheon meeting of the Society of Independent Earth Scientists (SIPES) Dallas Chapter at the Prestonwood Country Club in Dallas.  The presentation was attended by approximately 50 members and guests, including UT Dallas geology graduate student Kevin Hiss.  The talk was well received, and several attendees afterwards expressed interest in learning more about our lab.  Representatives from two companies discussed potential projects and access to data sets.  Very exciting possibilities for future students!

Oct 8, 2019: Presentation to Roswell Geologic Society

On the evening of October 8, Lowell Waite presented an invited talk entitled “Stratigraphic framework of the Wolfcamp – Spraberry of the Midland Basin” to 25 members and guests of the Roswell Geologic Society in Roswell, New Mexico.  The presentation discussed the tectono-stratigraphic development of the Late Pennsylvanian through early Permian deep-water sediments of the Midland Basin, including the Wolfcamp shale (A – D units) and the overlying Dean and Spraberry formations.  Of particular emphasis is the differences between facies and mineralogy of the various units, a function of the dynamic evolution of the western margin of Pangea (e.g., eustasy, tectonics, climate, biota) during Late Pennsylvanian – early Permian time.

A copy of the presentation can be found here:

Oct. 2, 2019: EIA predicts that renewables will provide nearly half of world electricity by 2050

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released its International Energy Outlook 2019 report.  In it, they predict that global electricity generation from renewable energy sources (hydropower, wind, and solar) will grow from 28% in 2018 to 49% in 2050.  They predict that coal will remain the most-used industrial fuel, but that renewables will have the fastest rate of growth.  The report also concludes that petroleum and other liquid fuels consumption will increase by more than 20%, the majority of consumption growth occurring in non-OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) countries.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the EIA website, here:



August 8, 2019: Here’s what is really happening in the Permian Basin

A recently published opinion article by energy analyst David Blackmon in Forbes paints a slightly rosier picture for the immediate future of Permian Basin shale plays, in contrast to many recent “doom and gloom” articles heralding their imminent decline.  While acknowledging that some operators have been overly-aggressive with well spacing, he reports that average per-well recoveries continue to grow.  According to Allen Gilmer, Founder and COB of DrillingInfo, one reason why so many analysts acquire false beliefs about the health of the Permian play is due to a tendency to apply poor results of one operator to the entire basin.  Inherent heterogeneities in unconventional rocks makes such widespread assumptions misleading.

The full article may be viewed here: