CA Boasts 2/3 of U.S. Shale Oil Reserves

JAN. 24, 2012


Back on Dec. 21, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown said at a Jewish Menorah-lighting ceremony, “Today’s miracle is not to find more oil, but to utilize the sun.”  Brown was touting solar energy projects.

But the solution to Brown’s structural $20 billion annual state budget deficit may not be in the sky but under his feet.  Particularly if Brown is standing any place where the Monterey Shale Formation is underneath.  That would include the counties of Kern, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Monterey, Tulare, San Luis Obispo, Kings, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus and San Benito.

The reason is that there may be a resurgence of the historic oil patches in California. This is the result of updated estimates of the recoverable barrels of shale oil due to new extraction technologies.

The Monterey Shale Formation in California is estimated to have 64 percent — repeat 64 percent — of the recoverable shale oil reserves in the lower 48 states.

Below is a recapitulated table from the U.S. Energy Information Administration report, “Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays — July 2011”:

Recapitulated Table of U.S. Technically Recoverable Shale Oil Resources

Play Technically Recoverable Resource

Oil – Billions Barrels of Oil-BBO

Area in Square Miles Average EUR

Oil — Million of Barrels of Oil per Well

Eagle Ford Formation


3.35 BBO

13.9 Percent

3,323 300
Avalon & Bone Springs Formation

New Mexico & West Texas

1.58 BBO

6.5 Percent

1,313 300
Bakken Formation

Montana, No. Dakota & Canada

3.59 BBO

15.0 Percent

6,522 550
Monterey-Santos Formation – California 15.42 BBO

64.4 Percent

1.752 550

100 Percent

12,910 460

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration .pdf, July 2011

Abundant Shale Oil

California may have more than four times the recoverable shale oil than the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota, which currently is bringing vast prosperity to that state.  It has more than 4.5 times the reserves of the Eagle Ford Formation in Texas.  And it has nearly 10 times the shale oil reserves in the Avalon and Bone Springs Formations in New Mexico and Texas.

This is how the U.S. Energy Information Administration describes it:

“The largest shale oil formation is the Monterey/Santos play in southern California, which is estimated to hold 15.4 billion barrels or 64 percent of the total shale oil resources shown in Table 1. The Monterey shale play is the primary source rock for the conventional oil reservoirs found in the Santa Maria and San Joaquin Basins in southern California. The next largest shale oil plays are the Bakken and Eagle Ford, which are assessed to hold approximately 3.6 billion barrels and 3.4 billion barrels of oil, respectively.” 

Remember the days when the Southern California economy was built on oil and movies?  The birthplace of the oil industry may have been Pennsylvania, but it quickly spread to Long Beach, Ventura, Huntington Beach and San Luis Obispo County.

Will oil derricks and rigs return to Santa Barbara County and off the coastline? It is unlikely and not necessary with new horizontal drilling techniques.

California continues to try to erect an energy embargo around California with its Cap and Trade regulations and AB 32 mandates to plug its structural $20 billion annual budget deficit.

But ironically, California is sitting on a potential second resurgence of its oil patch that might be able to patch up the state budget deficit and sharply cut unemployment.

The state budget deficits are not solely due to a prolonged economic downturn.  They are a choice.



Write a comment
  1. larry 62
    larry 62 24 January, 2012, 09:22

    Does anyone think that California GREENIES will take advantage of this oil or will they continue on with their green fantasies?

    Reply this comment
  2. Bill-San Jose
    Bill-San Jose 24 January, 2012, 14:01

    I love the idea of having those counties file BK and telling the state to pay for the unpaid bills since they are holding back these counties from development that would surely benefit not only those counties but the entire socialist soviet republic of Kalifornia.

    Reply this comment
  3. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 24 January, 2012, 15:35

    Reply to Bill-San Jose
    Now we can plainly see why California’s elites want green energy and do not want oil extraction (where the crude oil might be merely sold overseas). Except for the County of Santa Barbara and maybe Monterey County, all the other counties are mainly colored RED on a political map. California’s Environmental Policy: Starve the Red, Feed the Blue.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bob
    Bob 24 January, 2012, 16:23

    I hope those reserves are never tapped unless those counties secede.

    Do you really want all that oil tax money going to the parasites in Sucramento?

    Just think what Jerry, Darrell and Johnny Perez and their union puppet masters would do with all that loot.

    Reply this comment
  5. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 24 January, 2012, 19:43

    AT $80 a barrel 64 billion barrels of oil would be about $5.12 trillion. Spread over 30 years it would be $170 billion per year in gross oil revenues. I have no idea what excise taxes on crude oil are. Let’s say 10%. That would be $17 billion per year in lost taxes. So there is you budget deficit plugged.

    Reply this comment
  6. JoeS
    JoeS 24 January, 2012, 21:13

    I hope Nevada can slant drill and get our oil. They will put it to good use. Moonbeam is too stupid. Maybe more of our businesses can move out to avoid the new taxes to pay for green jobs and the bullet train fiasco.

    Maybe I can get an address in Nevada so I can avoid these taxes, too!

    Reply this comment
  7. David H
    David H 24 January, 2012, 21:30

    I used to ride dirt bikes all over the hills of Avenal and Taft, and I can tell you there is oil in them there hills.

    Reply this comment
  8. Chucksters
    Chucksters 26 January, 2012, 16:24

    In 1969, I was working offshore in the Santa Barbara Channel on a brand new oil platform. Union Oil experienced an unexpected “blow-out”. It wasn’t something Union did wrong, every regulated drilling practice was being followed, and even as unfortunate as it was, it still wasn’t the end of the world.
    But after that, I watched the eco-nazis go into full blown hysteria. I mentioned to several of my superiors that all the oil companies working in SoCal should gather together and buy every acre of land along the coast from Point Conception to below Ventura and plow it all up. Destroy any coastal area that anyone could live on and breed more eco-nazis.
    Too bad they didn’t. This conversation wouldn’t be happening today. The companies would just simply start drilling the shale.
    If these estimates are even close to being accurate, the oil companies could still buy out every blue community and plow it up. Then tell the Coastal Commission and moonbeam to pound sand.

    Reply this comment
  9. nowsane
    nowsane 28 January, 2012, 07:21

    Unfortunately, Moonbeam is unlikely to go for this easy source of revenue, as he has been carrying the water for Obummer on this ludicrous clean energy solutions debacle, which supply less than 10% of all energy requirements.

    Reply this comment
  10. NSJ4
    NSJ4 23 July, 2012, 21:51

    Why does anyone rational still live in California? It would be way too depressing for me to see people like Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown and the Democratic/Union/Socialist/Eco-Nazi Party running the state directly into the ground, while the parasitic majority there cheers them on.

    Reply this comment
  11. Ali
    Ali 31 July, 2012, 00:19

    While you fondly recall the blowout on a brand new rig in 1969, I still remember how I had these strange black oil stains on the bottom of my feet when I visited a public beach just north of Santa Barbara with my family on a trip to SoCal in 2007! I was blown away by the fact that here I was in 2007, and the oil was still sitting there in the sands of that beach!
    Anyone complaining about California needs to realize that its beautiful state exactly because of the “Blue” folks who keep it from being turned into another Texas style mishap of a state! California is the world leader in High Tech, Bio Tech, Green tech etc exactly because of the choices we make. I am FOR getting to the oil in a very VERY responsible and careful manner. Not like what you suggest that the oil companies “plow up” the coast! Thank God there is a state for people with your mentality, and its called the great $hithole of Texas! Go there! I’ll take my California clean and pristine and leave it as such for my children and grandchildren!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  12. baldrad
    baldrad 24 November, 2012, 21:27


    Texas is a great state, and a beautiful one. I can show you a lot of parts of California that are $hitholes, as you put it. California is a long way from “pristine”. Be serious. I’m thinking there are a lot of places in California you have not been to.

    Best start wondering how your children and grandchildren are going to meet the budgetary/debt requirements of a state run OF, BY, AND FOR CSEA!

    Reply this comment
  13. Nelly D,Medina
    Nelly D,Medina 15 January, 2013, 19:27

    I’m American citizen and so proud to be an American.My origin country is full of oil and USA buy from them, so You image now that will not need that future oil from them or other countries. I’m really happy that God is given a marvelous gift to America. We (Americans) are more proud of our blessing land.Now, we are going to have more jobs in the country because the natural resources in California.God continue blessing our country. In the close future, we need to push our sons and daughters to study oil engineering, science, and mathematics to improve our country and continue as a better nation of the world.I love A M E R I C A.

    Reply this comment
  14. Karl
    Karl 18 January, 2013, 13:18

    I was hoping they found a major oil pool under my brother’s house in snotty Calabasas. Besides that maybe the good lord will intervene and slide the Eco-Nazis into the Pacific and then we can let that money out? Still an oil world and oil bankers run it so drill away! Sad thing is all that money will be wasted by the polticians on dumb stuff and then what? Might be nice if some of the money was stashed into a fund for the future. Exxon is developing algae oil etc. to speed up the process but they should legalize pot meantime and let the politicians tax it and mellow out the folks rather than making the Mexican Mafia’s filthy rich.(or at least it should be an American mafia getting rich) Life is good! I’m buying an old Caddilac Fleetwood to celebrate!

    Reply this comment
  15. Chris
    Chris 15 February, 2013, 09:34

    Here are the oil platforms and tracts off central coast –

    Also, what is the difference between oil sand and oil shale?

    I here oil sand when processed does not float. It is deadly if it gets in water…

    Reply this comment

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