California is sitting on a massive amount of shale oil and could become the next oil boom state. But only if the industry can get the stuff out of the ground without upsetting the state's powerful environmental lobby.
Running from Los Angeles to San Francisco, California's Monterey Shale is thought to contain more oil than North Dakota's Bakken and Texas's Eagle Ford -- both scenes of an oil boom that's created thousands of jobs and boosted U.S. oil production to the highest rate in over a decade.
In fact, the Monterey is thought to hold over 400 billion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That's nearly half the conventional oil in all of Saudi Arabia.
"Four hundred billion barrels, that doesn't escape anyone in this businesses," said Stephen Trammel, energy research director at IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
As a result of the San Andres fault, California's geologic layers are folded like an accordion rather than simply stacked on top of each other like they are in other Shale states. The folds have naturally cracked the shale rock, and much of California's current "conventional" oil production -- the third largest in the nation -- is thought to come from the Monterey.
But the folds mean recent advancements that have made shale oil and gas profitable to extract -- horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing -- don't work as well in California. It's hard to drill horizontally if the shale is not flat.
Plus, it appears the Monterey is made up of shale rock that doesn't respond as well to hydraulic fracturing -- the controversial practice known as fracking that involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into the ground under high pressure to crack the rock and allow the oil and gas to flow.
Still, the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates there are over 15 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered using today's technology.
"That's a huge number," said Matt Woodson, an analyst at the energy research firm Wood Mackenzie. Woodson said the 15 billion number far exceeds current estimates for North Dakota's Bakken Shale, and is about half the amount held in Alaska's North Slope before it was tapped.
Problem is Californians in their delusions did vote for the Airboard to regulate in the name of the Progressive Global Warming Religion without accountability to us. Those extremists do not like oil or gas and Brown has his tax increase. A tax increase he proclaims is enough for billion dollar Progressive toy trains and a balanced budget - if we do not include pension promises which the economy will never be able to meet. Oh, the Sierra Club Representative said California has more than enough natural gas to meet our own needs. WOW given unemployment, failing living standards and massive structural unemployment driving the more highly educated middle class out.
It is one thing to have resources which in all likelihood exceed Mr. Hamm's Bakken estimates. It is another to have an informed citizenry capable of making informed decisions.
Sadly we have already voted in sustaining the Air Board that we will never be informed enough to make choices for ourselves. We are like little Eloi being taken care by the Morlocks or Progressives.
Some will be developed by the to be expected Progressive crony capital economy.
But not the wealth spilling down to the middle and working classes North Dakota success.