Estimates of California Shale Oil Potential Cut By 96%

Estimates of California Shale Oil Potential Cut By 96%

by RP Siegel

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 12:30pm



Reports of an upcoming oil boom in California based on massive Monterey shale formation now appear to have been premature. According to the LA Times, a 2011 assessment of the formation’s potential assumed that the challenges involved in extracting the oil would be comparable to other shale formations. While numerous exploratory wells have been drilled by small, independent companies, the major players remained skeptical.

John Staub, a petroleum exploration and production analyst with the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, “Our oil production estimates combined with a dearth of knowledge about geological differences among the oil fields led to erroneous predictions and estimates.”

Staub called the Monterey formation “stagnant” when compared to the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, given the current technology. Future advances in extraction methods could allow the oil to be recovered economically.

This is another example of the over-exuberance that players in the oil industry and on Wall Street have demonstrated with regard to the potential of shale gas and oil. David Hughes, a geologist with the Post Carbon Institute has warned that the economics of the current shale gas and oil boom, could be setting us up for another large scale bubble that could have drastic consequences when it bursts.

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Image Credit: Shale formation, Jesse Varner: Flickr Creative Commons

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. He has been published in business and technical journals and has written three books. His third, co-authored with Roger Saillant, is Vapor Trails, an eco-thriller that is being adapted for the big screen. RP is a professional engineer – and a prolific inventor, with 50 patents, numerous awards, and several commercial products. He is president of Rain Mountain LLC and is an active environmental advocate in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. In addition to Justmeans, he writes for Triple Pundit, ThomasNet News, and Energy Viewpoints, occasionally contributing to Mechanical Engineering, Strategy + Business, and Huffington Post. You can follow RP on Twitter, @RPSiegel.