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Ohio Utica Shale

Report says development plans for Monterey shale are a myth

By Bob Downing Published: December 4, 2013

From the Post Carbon Institute today:

(Los Angeles, CA—Wednesday, December 4) Post Carbon Institute (PCI) and Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE Healthy Energy) released a groundbreaking report on Tuesday using industry data that presents compelling evidence that the promise of a Monterey Shale boom is a myth. Authored by geoscientist J. David Hughes, Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale (download the full report) is the first analysis of oil production data taken directly from the Monterey Shale Formation and questions whether previous studies modeled on assumptions from other regions are accurate when paralleled with real data.

Drilling California specifically challenges the estimates of technically recoverable resources for the Monterey Shale released by the US Energy Information Agency and INTEK in their 2011 report as well as the economic projections based on them put forth by the University of Southern California in their 2013 economic study (USC Report) — upon which all of the optimism of the Monterey shale has been based.

By examining the play’s fundamental characteristics compared to other tight oil plays, including geological properties, production rates and cumulative production, Drilling California exposes significant flaws in the assumptions made and ultimately the forecasts of these two reports. In fact, the report reveals that only a small fraction of the 13.7 to 15.42 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil estimated by the EIA/INTEK report will likely ever be produced — making it increasingly evident that any promise of a Monterey Shale boom has been overstated and highly exaggerated.

During a news conference on Tuesday, PSE’s Executive Director Dr. Seth B. Shonkoff stated, “It is clear from our data analysis that oil production from The Monterey is not likely to be the major economic opportunity that previous studies have indicated. Instead,” Shonkoff continued, “the actual oil production data suggest that even with the most advanced well stimulation technologies, such as high volume hydraulic fracturing and acidization that have been successful in other shale plays, oil production in the Monterey Formation, which has been in decline for many years, is unlikely to increase to the levels assumed for these rosy economic projections.”

“California would be well advised to avoid thinking of the Monterey Shale as a means to significantly increase the State’s oil production and as a solution to its economic dilemmas,” said Hughes. “Long term energy sustainability is a pressing challenge for California and the Nation and demands a credible assessment of future energy and economic opportunities as well as a consideration of the environmental costs.”

Drilling California will be particularly valuable for informing public policy decisions surrounding the development of the Monterey Shale. Policymakers and analysts throughout California welcomed the report as the first publically available empirical analysis of oil production data and weighed in on the significance of this report for California’s energy and economic future.

“Finally a report that contains the necessary empirical information to judge the reality of the claims of the Monterey shale resources and associated potential employment. And we already know that the picture is more complex geophysically, economically and socially, and the projections offered are based on very rough estimates that don't hold water when scrutinized. The question now is whether this type of analysis will be heard in time by Californians, before weak legislation (SB4) enters in effect.”

- Catherine Gautier Professor Emerita, UC Santa Barbara

“There was great need for a level-headed look at the Monterey Formation after the USC report made it sound like oil gushers were coming back along with hyper-inflated job projections. This report should make Governor Brown re-think his ‘all-in’ position on unconventional oil extraction and re-double his efforts to lead us to meet our AB 32 climate change goals.”

- Bill Allayaud California Director of Governmental Affairs, The Environmental Working Group

“How did the EIA and USC get it so wrong? The magnitude of the error spotlighted in Drilling California, calls to question whether both the EIA and USC have yielded to political and economic temptations over scientific principles. The promotion of sound energy policy has certainly suffered a setback as the facts revealed in this report will lag far behind the false claims of both the INTEK and USC reports.”

- Debbie Cook Former Mayor of Huntington Beach

“Energy decisions have implications that last for decades. As this report clearly lays out, fracking California's Monterey shale poses significant economic and environmental risks that persist for multiple lifetimes. Local renewables offer an unparalleled opportunity for California to achieve a clean, safe, and resilient energy future that establishes a robust economic foundation at the same time.”

- Craig Lewis Executive Director, Clean Coalition

“The Hughes report cuts through the hype of oil industry-funded research to reveal that a California fracking expansion will deliver only minor economic benefits at best. This expert analysis also suggests that Big Oil could do permanent damage to our environment and public health by chasing the fantasy of a new oil boom. If oil companies drilled the tens of thousands of new wells this report suggests would actually be needed to significantly increase production, California would suffer a massive increase in contaminated drilling muds, toxic wastewater and dangerous air pollution.”

- Hollin Kretzmann Staff Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.