Skip to comments.California's next frontier: Development of the Monterey Shale
Posted on 12/03/2013 5:26:20 AM PST by thackney
Depending on whom you ask, it looks like California is getting closer to tapping the nearly 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil that lies deep in the Monterey Shale. On September 20, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 4 into effect, a bill that provides California with its first set of requirements specifically associated with hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation techniques, such as acidizing. Less than one month later, the California Department of Conservation (DOC) has released proposed regulations applicable to well stimulation treatments in the state, initiated the States environmental review process and set the stage for the release of Emergency Regulations, under which owners and operators will be able to proceed with well stimulation in the interim.
While both industry and environmental groups may have wanted more from out of SB 4, its passage and swift implementation will provide some certainty now for oil and gas operators looking to develop the Monterey Shale, and avoids a situation like that in New York State, where the future of hydraulic fracturing remains in limbo.
SB 4 requires Californias Natural Resources Agency to, by January 1, 2015, complete a comprehensive independent scientific study on well stimulation treatments, including an evaluation of the hazards and risks that well stimulation treatments pose to natural resources and public, occupational, and environmental health and safety. SB 4 requires the study to be truly comprehensive, covering everything from the chemical make-up of the treatment to the way that flowback is treated after stimulation. Specifically, SB 4 provides that the study should consider well stimulation treatments, additive and water transportation to and from the well site, the mixing and handling of well stimulation treatment fluids and additives at the well site, options for the use of nontoxic additives in treatments, the use or reuse of treated or produced water in well stimulation treatment fluids, and the treatment and disposal of flowback fluids and other materials, if any, generated by the treatment. The study must also consider acid matrix treatments and air emissions, including potential greenhouse gas emissions.
SB 4 also provides that the DOCs Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) must conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to provide the public with detailed information regarding any potential environmental impacts of well stimulation in the state. The requirement to perform an EIR goes beyond the analysis that is typically required for oil and gas activities in California. The state Senate Rules Committee noted in its analysis of SB 4 that DOGGR regularly approves oil and gas development proposals under the CEQA categorical exemptions for minor alterations to land or existing facilities, or by way of negative or mitigated negative declarations. As a result, oil and gas permits are rarely reviewed in EIRs that would evaluate the potential risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.
On November 15, 2013, DOC published a Notice of Preparation of an EIR to evaluate the impacts of existing and potential future oil and gas wells stimulation treatments occurring in the state. DOC has stated that the objectives of the EIR process are to:
identify, evaluate and disclose the potential environmental impacts of well stimulation treatments of both conventional and non-conventional oil and gas resources within the State;
further the State Legislatures efforts to ensure that well stimulation practices are conducted in a manner that assures environmental protection, public safety, data collection and reporting, interagency coordination, regulatory oversight and monitoring, and public disclosure; and
allow for the safe recovery and production of the States oil and gas resources.
In December 2013 and January 2014, DOGGR will host several Scoping Meetings to solicit public comment on determining the scope and content of the EIR. Down the road, the study will result in publication of a Draft EIR and a Final EIR. Once the Draft EIR is released, there will be a 30-60 day public comment period.
Previously, in December 2012, DOGGR released a pre-rulemaking discussion draft of regulations applicable to hydraulic fracturing. The discussion draft did not trigger the formal rulemaking process and simply acted as a means of engaging stakeholders in the process early on. DOGGR withdrew the discussion draft following the passage of SB 4.
SB 4 directs DOGGR to develop regulations by January 1, 2015, that include the following components:
revisions to the rules and regulations governing construction of wells and well casings to ensure the integrity of wells, well casings, and the geologic and hydrologic isolation of the oil and gas formation during and following well stimulation treatments;
full disclosure of the composition and disposition of well stimulation fluids;
a provision for the well operator to provide for baseline and follow-up water testing upon request by a nearby property owner; and
threshold values for acid matrix stimulation treatments.
SB 4 also sets forth the need to promote regulatory transparency and accountability. To accomplish this, SB 4 directs DOGGR to enter into formal agreements with other agencies as necessary to clearly delineate respective authority, responsibility, and notification and reporting requirements associated with well stimulation treatments and well stimulation treatment-related activities, including air and water quality monitoring.
As directed by SB 4, DOC released its proposed regulations on November 15, 2013. Generally, the DOC proposed SB 4 Well Stimulation Treatment Regulations define the types of well stimulation treatments, e.g. hydraulic fracturing, and set out various requirements applicable to such treatments. Some of the requirements covered by the proposed regulations include the need to
obtain a permit prior to the treatment,
provide pre-treatment notice to property owners so that baseline water testing can be conducted,
perform an evaluation of the well integrity prior to treatment and monitoring during treatment,
adhere to standards for storage and handling of well stimulation fluids, (v) perform post-treatment monitoring, and
submit to the Chemical Disclosure Registry information relating to the contents of the treatment.
The release of the proposed regulations kicks off the beginning of the formal rulemaking process and the 60-day comment period. DOC has indicated that, in alignment with SB 4, the regulations are scheduled to go in to effect on January 1, 2015. In the meantime, DOC plans to implement emergency regulations effective January 1, 2014 to ensure the major requirements of SB 4 are addressed in the interim.
In the meantime
Unlike New York, California does not expect industry to sit on the sidelines until January 1, 2015 when the final rules are to be promulgated. SB 4 provides that, until the rules are finalized and implemented, DOGGR shall allow all well stimulation treatment activities, provided various conditions are met. DOC plans on releasing a streamlined interim procedure by December 13, 2013.
The interim procedure will take the form of Emergency Regulations, effective January 2014, for a one-year period. Under the Emergency Regulations, owners and operators will be able to proceed with well stimulation treatments without obtaining a permit, as long as certain conditions are met. Based on DOCs SB 4 Implementation Plan, the Emergency Regulations will:
define well stimulation treatments covered by the interim procedure, including threshold values for acid volume;
with assistance from the State Water Board, provide initial guidance for owners and operators on the development of groundwater monitoring plans;
specify how operators are to certify compliance with SB 4, including disclosures relating to:
-the date and location of the well stimulation treatment;
-the makeup and volume of fluids other than water, by CAS number and trade name;
-disposition of fluids;
-radioactivity of produced fluids;
-water use and water management planning compliance;
-groundwater monitoring compliance;
-compliance with requirements for neighbor notification and neighbor testing rights; and
-the posting of chemical information to the Internet.
Governor Brown included a signing statement with SB 4 that specifically references permitting under the new law and the need for efficiency in issuing permits. In that statement, Governor Brown directs the DOC to develop an efficient permitting program for well stimulation activities that groups permits together based on factors such as known geologic conditions and environmental impacts, while providing for more particularized review in other situations when necessary.
Governor Brown has pledged to work with the state legislature to address certain areas of SB 4 and to develop amendments as needed. While there is still work to be done, the passage of SB 4 signals that California has recognized the tremendous potential of the Monterey Shale and is working toward establishing a regulatory program to facilitate the development of that resource now. Despite some challenges on the horizon, SB 4 demonstrates Californias commitment to developing the Monterey Shale, which provides the oil and gas industry with some certainty. The end result could be a boon to a state economy that has had its fair share of rough spots over the last few years.
And on the political side, Monterey Shale is looking better.
Wow, this will get the enviroweenies knickers all in a twist. Good!
If you thought the protests over the Keystone XL pipeline were bad, wait until you see what the environmentalists do about this, which is right in their backyard, so to speak. I’d better stock up on popcorn, the next time I go grocery shopping.
The state smells money and wants its cut. The anticipated pile of cash is just too large to ignore.
And who thinks they won't tie the whole thing up with lawsuit after lawsuit?
Just the requirement that local landowners can request water sampling and testing could slow down the process of bringing a well to market enough to eventually make the Monterey Shale formation unprofitable. I'm fine with that, though, since it will keep this resource from being used to postpone the eventual financial collapse of Kalifornia.
There is so much oil in California its seeping out of the ground.
After the ambulance chasers swarmed in Pennsylvania, it is common for oil companies to test local water wells BEFORE drilling begins for comparison afterwards. This is normal practice now for many. I suspect most oil companies won't wait for a request, but rather request it themselves long before a local drill rig shows up.
There are significant technical problems in the Monterey Shale.
Oil Firms Seek to Unlock Big California Field
Sept. 22, 2013
California’s Monterey Shale formation is estimated to hold as much as two-thirds of the recoverable onshore shale-oil reserves in the U.S.’s lower 48 states, but there’s a catch: It is proving very hard to get.
Formed by upheaval of the earth, the Monterey holds an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil, or as much as five times the amount in North Dakota’s booming Bakken Field, according to 2011 estimates by the Department of Energy. The problem is, the same forces that helped stockpile the oil have tucked it into layers of rock seemingly as impenetrable as another limiting factor: California’s famously rigid regulatory climate.
California has become one of the U.S.’s top oil-producing states over the past century, largely by tapping into the easier-to-get oil that has seeped out of the Monterey beneath places like Bakersfield and Los Angeles County. But with production in general decline since the 1980s, producers are trying a smorgasbord of techniquescalled enhanced oil recovery in industry parlancein an effort to tap into the mother lode.
So far, there have been no production breakthroughs.
Venoco Inc. of Los Angeles, for example, said in a report that after drilling 29 wells in the Monterey Shale from 2010 to 2012, no “material levels of production or reserves” resulted. A Venoco spokeswoman declined to comment further.
So far, Brown has acted completely like a republican, ruled by austerity, lid off teachers, frozen teachers pays, sold off unsused assets and now the fracking. I wonder what California democrats are thinking now? Brown is doing all the things he accused Meg Whitman was going to do......
Sometimes I love living in this state, just to see how stupid democrats really are
And where do you suppose the money comes from to pay for an army of high-priced lawyers and lobbyists to tie this thing up in court and the legislature? Hint: it’s not grandma sending $10 because she saw a picture of a sad looking polar bear.
Follow the money.
SB4 passed house & senate and was signed already by the Governor.
While many can try to disrupt the study and influence the results for new rules, SB 4 provides that, until the rules are finalized and implemented, DOGGR shall allow all well stimulation treatment activities, provided various conditions are met.
The work starts now.
Yeah right. Trust me when I say this will NEVER happen. The ‘bullet’ train has a better chance of happening.
What a ridiculous come on. The on;y way this would happen is if California all of a sudden went back in time to being a more conservative state .
There has already been drilling in the Monterey Shale field.
Nonsense. If that were the case they would allow drilling off of Santa Barbara. California is hopelessly lost in the 60s groove thing. Manufacturing of ICs became so difficult (and expensive) that companies moved the manufacturing out decades ago.
And he pushed the ridiculous bullet train which will be the money hog for ever. DOn’t fool yourself. There is a super majority in the legislative branch if they get fed up Brown will get his
but it is California and the work won’t start now
Never going to happen.
“Oil executive Harold Hamm, who made billions tapping the vast Bakken oil field in North Dakota before other companies saw the potential, sounded a pessimistic tone about whether the industry will develop California’s Monterey Shale formation, which is estimated to have possibly five times more oil.
“It’s just been tough to break the code on how to get that,” said Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, an independent oil company with the largest footprint in the Bakken oil fields in Western North Dakota. “Everybody thought they could and it hasn’t worked out.”
He added that the field, which is located in the San Joaquin Valley in central California, has not yet matured to a form that companies could develop with today’s technologies.”
And if you think that the Sierra Club and other greenies are going to allow any real development, I have a bridge to sell you.
Again, the work has already started. There are multiple companies that already have wells in the Monterey. It has been technically challenging in ways different from the Eagle Ford and Bakken.
Yep. If you look at the hwy infrastructure, the only roads heavy equipment can use is scenic Hwy 1, Hwy 68 to Salinas, and Hwy 101 which runs North and south connecting to 1 and 68.
Progress is slow, but there are about 3 dozen rigs working the Monterey Shale plays.
Shale requires tracking or some other form of making the shale liquid enough to flow . tell me where exactly are these so called working wells? You can’t mean the rigs off of Santa Barbara that have been shut down since the last century.
And by the way drilling means next to nothing if you aren’t getting anything out
The Monterey, like Eagle Ford and Bakken, are not retorting the shale to release liquid. The are producing the liquid already released from the shale via geological process. The vast majority of hydrocarbons is still locked in the shale and requires heat to release, but the 2~5% that is already released is in the billions of barrels.
The Monterey shale field is 100% onshore. It overlaps a lot of the Bakersfield area.
This bit of fluff from the oil industry is about an area that has produced oil for more than 100 years. It borders the Kern oil fields. You also notice from the article that there is NO mention of actual tracking or otherwise dealing with the shale to give up its oil.
Colorado Shale fields were in this same state in the 70s. Much was claimed, much was ‘started’ .nothing was produced and all major players have pulled out.
Do not kid yourselves. California is NOT North Dakota. This will never come to fruition EVEN IF the technology were there
“Shale requires tracking or some other form of making the shale liquid enough to flow . tell me where exactly are these so called working wells? You cant mean the rigs off of Santa Barbara that have been shut down since the last century.
And by the way drilling means next to nothing if you arent getting anything out”
There are bridges in Arizona that can also be sold for all those anxious to throw money into the Monterey Shale.
The Monterey takes a very thick oil column and/or extensive natural fractures to make it commercially attractive.
Reason is simple physics: liquids do not move well in this type of rock unless assisted by fractures. That is the secret to Bakken’s success.
One cannot make money attempting to duplicate fractures provided by Mother Nature. Just too expensive to accomplish.
The commercial success stories are few and far between, mostly offshore with thick oil columns assisted by natural fractures, and some onshore with local fracturing complexity.
Most of the oil produced in California over the years is believed to have its origin in the Monterey Formation and has migrated to more permeable layers, which has given rise to some of the nations largest oil fields. These large fields, including Midway-Sunset, Belridge South, Kern River, Cymric, and Wilmington, are situated in the southern half of California (although oil production is found in other parts of the state, as well). About 77 percent of Californias crude production is from the states top 10 fields. The single highest producing county in the state is Kern County, which alone accounts for approximately three-fourths of the states crude oil output.
After dropping to less than 20 active rigs in late 2009, activity in California has surged to more than 50 rigs, according to Baker Hughes. Many of those rigs are pursuing traditional production, but shale development has been active as well, particularly in the Monterey formation itself. While much of this activity is done through vertical and directional drilling, the state has also recently experienced steady horizontal drilling since 2011. Horizontal wells tend to run deeper than other wells in the state. The Monterey formations geology is varied and compartmentalized, but is based on diatomaceous material (the skeletons of microscopic diatoms) that varies from low-permeability diatomite closer to the surface to a more fractured material at greater depths to a quartz phase at the deepest ranges. It presents its own unique challenges, and specific techniques used elsewhere may not be directly applicable in the Monterey. This may be one reason Californias shale potential is more latent when compared to many states around the country.
And again I suggest to you that California oil production is well known and has been hampered consistently over the last half century. People have blocked expansion off shore. They have block expansion in the Bakersfield area.
How many barrels have these 3 dozen rigs produced to date???
You used the word tracking again. Do you mean hydraulic fracturing or something else.
It is on the edges of the Kern Oil Fields discovered in the 19th century. Oil has been produced in California for over a hundred years. We do not disagree on that. Your little sniper says nothing that I didn’t already acknowledge. What has not been shown is anything productive from actual shale rock. Californians routinely do things against their own best interest. They shut down power plants. They institute new air resources board regulations. They block off shore drilling. They shut down existing sites.
You can hope all you want. The truth is the left in California will kill this off way before the bullet train gasps its last breath
Do you understand that the falling oil production rate in California finally bottomed out and began a tiny climb?
No doubt they are behind most everyone others. And plenty of folks will drag down the progress and get in the way. But the increase in production has started, following the increase in drilling rigs that already started.
California Field Production of Crude Oil
darned autofill . FRACKING FRACKING that’s what I meant to type.
Thank you for bringing to my attention
They opened up old wells in the Kern Field.
Please quit hyperventilating over this. You do not seem to understand the politics of California at all. You can throw out oil reports all you want. The logging industry in California was killed by the greenies. I already cited the manufacturing losses in Silicon Valley (and through out the state). California is a home for wayward Mexicans and very rich folks from either Hollyweird or Silicon Valley.
Those who happen to be there because they have been there before things went so friggin nuts know that things are getting worse not better.
Wrong. Venoco for example has been producing oil from the Monterey since the late 1990s. The flow rates don't match the believe potential, but it has been going on for a while.
During the third quarter, Venoco successfully completed a well to a probable location in a separate geologic structure, known as Coal Oil Point, located to the northeast of Platform Holly in the South Ellwood field. The Coal Oil Point structure has two separate fault blocks. The well path of the probable well resulted in the intersection of the northern fault block in only the lowermost Monterey zone (M7), whereas the southern fault block was intersected in only the uppermost Monterey zone (M1). The well was completed in two sections, the first of which was in the northern fault block and was wet and the second of which was in the southern fault block and was successful. The well was on production for approximately 15 days prior to the annual maintenance shutdown at Platform Holly and produced at an average rate of approximately 220 barrels of oil per day over that period. Subsequent to the shutdown, production from the well declined to an average rate of approximately 100 barrels of oil per day.
By the way, I've done design and construction work for oil/gas in California. It has been a decade since the last time, but I have some understanding. I've been involved in getting construction and operation permits (limited role, more engineering/design/construction/startup)
No you really don’t. Those who live there or who have just recently left know. You do not.
and by the by the ND Bracken field uses fracking
The application of hydraulic fracturing technology caused a boom in Bakken production since 2000. By the end of 2010 oil production rates had reached 458,000 barrels (72,800 m3) per day outstripping the pipeline capacity to ship oil out of the Bakken. The production technology gain has led a veteran industry insider to declare that the USGS estimates are too low.
I thought you probably meant Fracking, but thought I would ask.
Hydraulic Fracturing is done in California, but not on most wells like other locations.
If you read from the link in post #9, it documents some of the hydraulic fracturing already done in California.
Few techniques have garnered more scrutiny in California than hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which entails injecting water, often mixed with chemicals, into a well to fracture rock formations and unlock trapped oil and natural gas. Widely used in North Dakota and other big fields, fracking is less common in California, where only 560 of 50,000 producing wells were fracked in 2012, according to the Western States Petroleum Association.
Yes, as does the Eagle Ford, and essential all tight formations like shale. I wasn't trying to imply that wasn't done.
By the numbers: How much Monterey Shale is being Produced?
According to the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources or DOGGR, oil companies have produced oil from the Monterey formation for years, including includes parts of the formation made of shale or dense rock.
17 News asked DOGGR what is currently being produced from Monterey shale in the Central Valley to find out how far along producers are into tapping into what could be a 15.4 billion barrel potential in the Monterey shale.
DOGGR could not give us that answer, saying the Division does not keep track of oil production by formation.
So 17 News decided to calculate the numbers on our own, calculating that last year only 1.6 million barrels of oil were produced from the Monterey Shale.
That’s 0.8 percent of the state’s total oil production (197,500,000 barrels in 2012, according to the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources).
Here’s how we calculated this number.
Searching through DOGGR field history data sheets, we isolated each field that has produced from the Monterey formation.
From there we identified the pool the field was producing from (Antelope, Stevens Sand, etc.). Then we identified which pools in the Monterey are shale, consulting California State University-Bakersfield geologist Janice Gillespie.
This is important because producers pull millions of barrels of oil from Stevens Sand, a pool in the Monterey formation but not shale.
Breakdown by individual play at the link:
sheesh I couldn’t get through all the regs. the state seems to think the political work is the real work.
good luck to the california frackers.
Colorado Shale fields were in this same state in the 70s. Much was claimed, much was started
.nothing was produced and all major players have pulled out.
The niobrara formation in Colorado is currently experiencing a huge boom.
I think you and I have vastly different ideas about what is a huge boom.
I would define a huge boom in this case as huge for colorado. Huge for california of course would mean much higher production increases off a much higher base.
Last month, Colorado averaged 69 active drilling rigs.
Two years ago, they averaged 80.
Three years before that, they averaged 123.
Nov 07, 113.
Nov 06, 88.
Nope. Not a boom at this time. Potential, yes, today, no.
Rigs by State - Current and Historical
that is a new turn around .at least in 2010 and 2011 the last of the majors were pulling out. glad to hear it. Though California is so deeply in liberal hands it is a different place than COlorado ever was
I know. Unlike you I have spent a good chunk of my life living there. I know all about California oil and what they do and do not do. One of the reasons I am a recent evacuee from that state is the hopeless nature of its politics