The Permian Basin actually refers to a subterranean basin, dating to the Permian Period of the late Paleozoic Era around 300 million years ago. Nowadays, it is buried deep beneath this part of the Edwards Plateau, yet it is this primordial basin which lends its name to the region, because it is responsible for the economic windfall which has made the area flourish; every year, the area pumps over 200 million barrels of oil from the buried basin strata. Indeed, driving through the countryside, it is impossible not to notice the hundreds of pumpjacks dotting the grassy landscape. Once collected, the oil is processed in the refineries of the Midland-Odessa area, which serves as headquarters for the Permian Basin oil and gas industry. The Permian Basin region is rated as the biggest inland petrochemical complex in the States.
I-20 cuts through the region as it comes westward from Dallas-Fort Worth to El Paso, and is the principal means of arriving by car. Some smaller highways provide other options for those driving in from the north or south.