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Report Casts Doubt On Potential Of Monterey Shale Oil Production

May 21, 2014

An anticipated oil boom in California may be delayed a bit, if it happens at all. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on some new estimates published today that could dampen the state’s fracking future.

Fracking is an oil extraction process that involves pumping large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into rock. It had been estimated California may be able to recover more than 13 billion barrels of Monterey Shale oil.

But The Los Angeles Times reports the U.S. Energy Information Administration now estimates 96 percent of the oil would be unreachable with available technology. That would leave access to only 600 million barrels. But even that’s too much for Kassie Siegel, with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Siegel: “We’re talking about investing in extreme and ever more damaging forms of fossil fuel development that just keep us addicted to oil and undercut renewable energy and that transition to a clean energy economy.”

Sabrina Lockhart is with Californians for a Safe, Secure, Energy Future which supports fracking. She stresses the EIA report only provides estimates on the amount of recoverable oil. She says advances in technology could allow the state to access the oil.

Lockhart: “California has the potential to become energy independent with or without these estimates. We have the safest standards in the nation and the demand for oil isn’t going to disappear overnight. And so, while we work toward using alternative fuels, it makes sense that we produce oil here where we can do it safely and affordably.”   

Governor Jerry Brown signed fracking regulations into law last year. Another bill that would impose a moratorium on fracking is being considered now in the legislature.