Things are bigger in Texas, especially oil deposits: The United States Geological Survey announced this week that its assessment of the Wolfcamp formation in West Texas has identified the largest continuous oil and gas deposit ever found in the US, Bloomberg reports. The USGS says the formation holds 20 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, which is worth around $900 billion at today's prices, along with 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. The oil is in four layers of shale under desert and is part of the Permian Basin area below West Texas and southeast New Mexico. It sits under land controlled by several energy companies.
NPR reports that the huge find is in an area that has already produced oil for around a century, but the deposits are only recoverable with modern methods including fracking and horizontal drilling. "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," says Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program. "Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable." (Read more oil stories.)