U.S. Geological Survey further downgrades California’s Monterey Shale

Downward graph
Source: DollarPhotoClub

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report released on Tuesday has again lowered the estimated reserves in the Monterey Shale oil and gas formation in California. A 2011 report estimated the area held 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, back in May those estimates were slashed by 96% to 600 million barrels.

Now, the latest report has downgraded the estimation for the most oil-rich portion to just 21 million barrels of oil and 27 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

“The volume estimated in the new study is small, compared to previous USGS estimates of conventionally trapped recoverable oil in the Monterey formation in the San Joaquin basin,” USGS said in a statement.

The assessment team concluded that most of the oil from Monterey formation in the assessment area migrated from the source rock, so there is probably relatively little recoverable oil or gas remaining there, and most exploratory wells in the deep basin are unlikely to be successful.

Although the data suggests that there is not a large volume of unconventional oil and gas in the Monterey formation, in the deep part of the basin there are still substantial volumes of conventional oil and gas resources as indicated by earlier assessments.

The 2011 estimate had sparked speculation of a California oil boom, but the report’s producers assumed techniques used in the Bakken or Eagle Ford could easily be transferred to California. The continuous oil accumulations present in the Bakken or Eagle Ford are not found in similar geographic locations or layers however, and the techniques used in North Dakota or Texas cannot apply to the variable layers found in the Monterey.

The report can be viewed here.

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