Study: No fracking bonanza for California’s Monterey Shale

A U.S. Geological Survey report out Tuesday downgrades the fracking potential of California’s vast Monterey Shale oil deposits.

The study is the latest to lower a 2011 federal energy estimate that billed the Monterey Shale as a game-changer for U.S. oil, with what was then estimated at 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil overall.

Instead, the U.S. Geological Survey’s new study said, the most oil-rich portion of the giant shale formation holds just 21 million barrels of oil that can be recovered by intensive methods, such as hydraulic fracturing, better-known as fracking.

The modest assessment has the potential to influence energy policy in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown has resisted calls from environmentalists to ban fracking.

Tuesday’s report looked only at the San Joaquin Basin, one of four basins that make up the 1,750-square-mile Monterey Shale formation. Upcoming USGS reports will estimate the recoverable petroleum in the other three basins. Another recent U.S. Geological Survey study estimated another 393 million barrels of oil are recoverable by conventional drilling in the San Joaquin basin of the Monterey Shale.

The 2011 estimate touched off speculation of a California oil boom. By 2014, however, federal energy authorities had deflated the Monterey Shale boom, reducing the overall estimate of recoverable oil by 96 percent.

Just Posted

Community-led efforts to monitor air quality in Bayview, Eastern neighborhoods gain traction

San Francisco community groups are working to install high-quality sensors in the… Continue reading

Homeless shelter opponents use attack as ammunition in fight against city

A week after being attacked outside her condo building near the Embarcadero,… Continue reading

Fire department drill finds traffic around Chase Arena could slow response time

For years, some have feared the future home of the Golden State… Continue reading

Did Scoot ‘redline’ SF neighborhoods? Chinatown group says ‘we asked for it’

The talk of the transportation world is a Los Angeles Times story… Continue reading

New hires solve SF school crossing guard shortage — for now

San Francisco has gone on a school crossing guard-hiring binge, hoping to… Continue reading

Most Read