California’s Monterey Shale, the Next Oil Boom?
By Jane Wells
Thousands of feet below some of the nation’s most fertile farm land could be 15.4 billion barrels of crude oil.
Billion, with a “B”.
The federal government believes the Monterey Shale, which lies under more than 1,750 square miles of central and southern California, has far more shale oil than anywhere else in the lower 48 states — nearly four times the amount of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.
But this is California. Nothing is easy. Accessing the oil will require hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, and even then it may be too expensive to be economical. Oil companies are quietly buying up mineral rights and drilling holes in the earth northwest of Bakersfield to see if they can get lucky.
“It’s very different in California,” said Gabe Garcia, who is an assistant field officer for the Bureau of Land Management in Bakersfield. He estimated there are 25 to 30 test wells on federal land drilling down as much as 14,000 feet into the Monterey Shalel. Unlike North Dakota, the geology in California is impacted by tectonic plates — the rock is folded over — forcing the oil into hidden pockets.
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