Skip to comments.The California Shale Bubble Just Burst
Posted on 05/22/2014 5:46:52 AM PDT by thackney
The great hype surrounding the advent of a shale gas bonanza in California may turn out to be just that: hype. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) - the statistical arm of the Department of Energy - has downgraded its estimate of the total amount of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale by a whopping 96 percent. Its previous estimate pegged the recoverable resource in California's shale formation at 13.7 billion barrels but it now only thinks that there are 600 million barrels available.
The estimate is expected to be made public in June.
The sharply downgraded numbers come amid a heated debate in California over whether or not the state should permit oil and gas companies to use hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") - the process in which a combination of water, chemicals and sand are injected underground at high pressure in order to break apart shale rock and access trapped natural gas.
Fracking involves enormous quantities of water; an average of 127,127 gallons of water were required to frack a single California well in 2013, according to the Western States Petroleum Association. That's equivalent to 87 percent of the water a family of four uses in an entire year.
California is home to an enormous agricultural industry, and with the Monterey Shale located beneath the fertile Central Valley, fracking is going to compete with agriculture, ranching and other commercial and residential users for water use. With 100 percent of California now in a state of "severe" drought, critics of fracking have gained traction in the debate over the extent to which the government should allow oil and gas companies to move in.
On March 20, Santa Cruz became the first county in California to ban fracking, the biggest win by environmental activists thus far in their campaign to rid the state of the practice. The move may have been symbolic though, since there isn't much of a presence by the industry in that locality; it was more aimed at putting pressure on Governor Jerry Brown to stop fracking in the water-starved state. That follows a unanimous February vote by the city of Los Angeles to ban the practice, the largest city to do so in the country.
Indeed, activists are pushing for a statewide ban on fracking, and a bill to do just that is working its way through the state senate. It passed a committee vote in April, but faces an uncertain future. Brown supports fracking and has trumpeted its potential for state revenues. The state has projected that fracking could bring up to 2.8 million new jobs and boost state coffers by $24.6 billion each year. He signed a bill last year that tightened regulations on the industry but also set up a permitting regime that could allow the industry to move forward.
Although the topic has been highly controversial, the ramifications may not be as significant as previously believed, now that the federal government believes only a small fraction of the Monterey Shale's reserves are accessible. The main reason for the downgrade was that the original 2011 estimate mistakenly assumed that California's shale oil and gas could be recovered with as much ease as it is elsewhere in the country.
But the geology of the Monterey Shale is much more complex than in the Marcellus, Bakken, or Eagle Ford Shales - the three formations principally responsible for the surge in oil and gas production in the United States. The layers of shale in the Monterey are folded in such a way that drilling is difficult, and test wells thus far have come up disappointing.
The Los Angeles Times quoted a downbeat assessment from an official with the EIA. "From the information we've been able to gather, we've not seen evidence that oil extraction in this area is very productive using techniques like fracking," said John Staub, a petroleum analyst with the EIA. "Our oil production estimates, combined with a dearth of knowledge about geological differences among the oil fields, led to erroneous predictions and estimates," he added.
The oil and gas industry was quick to point out that the calculation could change once again if drillers could improve technology to access the Monterey. After all, no one saw the shale revolution coming only a few short years ago. But as Staub, the EIA analyst noted, for now oil and gas production in "the Monterey formation is stagnant." And it could remain that way.
Does it matter, Thackney?
Would they have gone after the oil in California anyway?
Drilling in California is not necessary. Leave them to their enviro lunacy and eventual bankruptcy.
So the Sierra Club got their people inside to write this report.
A great tactic to use against shale oil production.
Clever; we need to fight the same way.
Estimates for oil drop by 96% between scientific studies. This is the study of rock, geology, and current drilling technology and economics, all solid, measurable, and with not much variation over the short run.
In contrast, the global warming is “settled science”, “the debate is over”, on a topic where even the key drivers of temperature are being debated, where previous forecasts have proven totally worthless, and where the role of the sun seems to be barely looked at. And people wonder why the “deniers” laugh at the warmists’ efforts to suppress the debate!
We won’t. We never do. Anyone who tries is called out for being a meanie by both sides...
The same group of people increased the Bakken and Eagle Ford oil field reserves.
We don’t need to create false reports. We don’t need to discount reports because they don’t meet our dreams.
Somebody inflated the numbers so that somebody could make a quick buck off of investors or grants, methinks.
I suspect political chicanery
There has definitely been a lot of hype based upon what might be accessible in the ground versus what was actually being brought up from the same play for a few years.
Given the lack of success hydraulic fracturing had been in producing the Monterey, companies have been trying other methods to get production high enough to meet the cost for the field.
Acidizing oil wells bigger than fracking?
August 12, 2013
nyone following the spread of fracking in California should check out an interesting and frustrating report this week from former San Francisco Chronicle journalist Rob Collier.
Its about acidizing, an oil production technique that involves pouring large amounts of hydrofluoric or hydrochloric acid down wells. Collier argues that it could be more effective than hydraulic fracturing as a way to unlock the Monterey Shale, an immense rock formation beneath central California that could hold more than 15 billion barrels of oil.
Can anyone believe any numbers the land-grabbing government produces?
The same group has been increasing the oil reserves in the Bakken and Eagle Ford, as well as others.
” - - - The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) - the statistical arm of the Department of Energy - - - “
Do you have a typo? The correct term is the PROPAGANDA Arm, not the statistical arm, based solely on post mortems of their previous public estimates.
[Keep in mind that this IS an official estimate by the Keystone Cops, US Federal Government, proud provider of the VA Hospital and Obamacare failed money pits.]
BTW, will the Chinese, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, AG Holder, POS Obama and Jerry Brown be forbidden to bid on the soon to be decreased mineral rights value of the Monterrey Shale acreage?
Either bad science (estimates are worthless) or politics (screw the estimates) at work here. Wish I knew which.
The initial reserves estimate was criticized by many as unsupported by data from the drilling that was going on.
Unlike other shale deposits around the country, the Monterey Shale is more uneven and the oil is buried deeper. Some companies have used hydraulic fracturing, which pumps massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals to break up rock formations, with mixed success.
From the information weve been able to gather, weve not seen evidence that oil extraction in this area is very productive using techniques like fracking, John Staub, an analyst who led the energy agencys research, told the Times.
The original estimate in 2011 was done by Intek, a Virginia-based engineering company.
The companys work was very broad, giving the federal government its first shot at an estimate of recoverable oil in the Monterey Shale. They got more data over time and refined the estimate, Intek senior associate Christopher Dean told the newspaper.
I understand the cline isn’t doing well either.
I always put all my faith in government.
Is a sarc tag really necessary?
Exactly. It doesn’t matter if they had reserves that were the equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s. As long as the Dems are in charge, they aren’t going to get one drop.
or about 5 swimming pools worth, which in Hollywood is equivalent to 3-4 wells per city block.
It just is having reality become clear instead of the unsupported wild estimate of 30 billion barrels for Devon. It is actually doing well, but it isn’t the magic oil spigot a few were hyping to promote their stock price.
LOL you’re using pragmatic statistics.
That’s not admissable in the court of the MSM.
If there was a Saudi sized oil field just 100 feet below ground in the middle of the desert east of San Bernadino they would ban its recovery for some stupid reason.
The California of today is the result of all those migrations to it for over a hundred years..................
Is this report more influenced by science or politics? It seems rather convenient.
...”it takes 127,000 gallons of water to frack a well...”
No. It takes between 3 and 11 million gallons of water to frack a well. In the Eagleford the average is 8 million gal and in the Marcellus it’s 3.5 million.
Then the blowback and produced water gives back 40-60% of that volume that requires treatment/recycling or disposal (by deep well injection).
Water in shale oil is a huge economy: about $37,888,000,000 to supply and treat/dispose in 2014, and growing about 6% annually. More than 80% of the cost is for hauling and disposal.
I can’t see California handling all the tanker traffic and media hype.
And I bet there’s more oil in California that we can imagine.
The article is so full of crap I don’t know where to start.
So I won’t.
This revised reserves report is more based upon science than the original over-estimated report.
Interesting article. There is no denying that fracking is good for local economies. It may already be having a large beneficial impact on the national economy. Despite the claims of environmental alarmists, I’m not aware of any significant adverse environmental impact from fracking.
That said, they do have water issues in California. According to the article, it takes as much water to frack a well as to meet the needs of a family of four. Is that a lot? How much oil and gas would they get from that well?
Last I heard, desalinization plants take a lot of energy which could be supplied by nuclear energy. Of course, nuclear energy is anathema to many so-called environmentalists. Are CA’s water problems partially self-inflicted? Maybe they have been ignoring a valid solution for years.
This revised report,no doubt,came after a big donation to Rat Party Headquarters by Earth First.
Last I heard, desalinization plants take a lot of energy which could be supplied by nuclear energy.
The US Navy probably has an economical solution to that problem. Unfortunately they aren’t using power that is considered politically correct.
Good to know. It’s hard to tell what is real and what is being spun for political purposes.
True...but is *clean* water required or can they use sewer runoff,etc? Or,for that matter,can they use sea water?
Water must be clean. Any biologicals introduced would plug up the holes and reduce the oil from moving into the well bore.
The estimate is expected to be made public in June? What’s this article then, chopped liver?
I believe they mean the detailed report for the basis of the estimate.
I am very, very suspicious of the timing of this: There is a MASSIVE anti-anergy, pro-CAGW propaganda move going on now as the recent NASA-GISS, Western Antarctica Ice Sheet “collapse”, movie releases, and “we’re all gonna die” climate catastrophes show.
My opinion? The CA oil fields are pretty much exactly where they were in April with just as much oil and shale rock in them as they were in April, but “somebody” between this energy agency press release and the next energy agency press release is going to make POLITICAL MOVE to either restrain fracking or buy oil rights or change fracking rules to make money later.
For example, just by changing rules now for a few oil areas will make AL of the present money invested there useless, right? So the “oil money” is lost (which makes greens and Washington and Sacramento and Ls Angeles and San Francisco very, very happy!) but leaves the oil in place for investors to buy up cheaply from the starving and government-controlled drought-killed farmers in central CA as well!
So, who benefits? ANYBODY who is well-connected with the democrats in charge, and who can work and think long-term. (Insert name of Chinese and Muslim and democrat donor here)
The industry people (not the stock promotion people) have been talking for a couple years how lasting production from wells in this play are not happening. Hydraulic Fracturing wasn’t yielding expected results. Acidizing and other methods have been pushed to extreme levels trying to create lasting production.
This area of rock is a twisted mess with many, many fractures that allowed oil to escape this deep layer and was the source rock for much of the Kern/Bakersfield previous production.
It sounds like the amount of oil is the same but they are saying it is more difficult to get at than previously thought.
They a iodized wells before cracking. Run the pipe, perforate, acidified then frack.
Why is that any surprise?
Is it a coincidence that unemployment rates "plunged" just before the 2012 election?
Is it a coincidence that obummercare enrollments suddenly surged above the "magic 6 million" mark on the last day of program enrollment?
I'll bet obummer never knew about this until he heard about it in the news.
-— According to the article, it takes as much water to frack a well as to meet the needs of a family of four. Is that a lot? How much oil and gas would they get from that well? -—
It’s hard to know what they mean. Most of the water is reclaimed, but a percentage remains deep underground in the formation, thousands of feet below the water table, where it will stay virtually forever. I don’t know how big that percentage is. It’s the only practical downside to fracking.
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They can actually frack an entire well with less water than a family of four uses in a single year?!
Seriously, that's a figurative drop in the bucket.
The water used in the hydrofrac comes out. Most of it comes out in the hydraulic fracturing process. What little remains after that point comes out in the production. It is pushed in from the play to the well bore. The production from the field is going to push it all back out.
Where hydrofrac water is left in the ground is the disposal of the water along with produced water during production. It is injected into deep formation, but this is not an injection into a producing well.
It's revealing that even that miniscule amount of water was consider too much to the author of this article. Even when converted into a "less than a family of four uses in a year" concept, it was still too much.
to me this is a free enterprise issue. If the companies want to go for it. let them invest and drill. If they don’t believe it is profitable, they won’t. Case closed.
They haven’t mentioned anything about water used in drilling, cement, acidiizing, drilling out any plugs, etc. Just the frac job. I have no idea how many zones they can produce from out there, but here in Texas often times more than one, though some are fairly small.
From the article I surmise the author doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.
Some of what’s pumped gallon wise during a frac is sand and gel, not just water. But at today’s prices, I’m sure the benefits out weigh the price of disposal.
Some argue the original over inflated estimate was used to get investors based upon the unreasonable claim it would be as “easy” as the Bakken and Eagle Ford, relatively flat stable geological formations.