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Innovation Needed To Crack Central California's Monterey Shale

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio

The much talked about oil boom to come out of Central California is on hold, unless new technology finds a way to safely crack the Monterey Shale that could hold over 13 billion barrels of oil.

Earlier this week The Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that 96 percent of the oil under California is unreachable with current fracking technology. Fracking is the process of injecting chemicals, sand or water into rock to release natural gas or oil.

“The confusion about the Monterey is the reserve the Monterey has been knocked down by 96 percent, because so far we haven’t figured out the technology to produce the Monterrey,” says Jan Gillespie a geology professor at California State University, Bakersfield. “As a resource however that potentially still exists.”

Supporters of fracking like Sabrina Lockhart with Californians for a Safe, Secure Energy Future say the findings aren’t an end all for safely drilling the Monterey Shale.

“With greater innovation there is still outstanding opportunity for California to become energy independent,” Lockheart says. “We already have the toughest standards in the nation regarding oil extraction and this will allow our state to achieve energy independence by safely and affordably producing energy here in California.”

Tupper Hall with the Western State Petroleum Associationagrees.

“This new assessment didn’t change one drop how much oil is actually in the ground,” Tupper says. “That oil is there. It can be developed at some point if the technology evolves to allow it and when that happens there will be tremendous economic benefit available to the San Joaquin Valley.”

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.


Ezra David Romero is an award-winning radio reporter and producer. His stories have run on Morning Edition, Morning Edition Saturday, Morning Edition Sunday, All Things Considered, Here & Now, The Salt, Latino USA, KQED, KALW, Harvest Public Radio, etc.
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