The Midway-Sunset oil field was at the heart of California’s oil boom, and continues to produce oil to this day, yet up in the hills above this field lies the largely untouched Monterey Shale formation which could create a new oil boom in the Golden State.
Accounting for around two thirds of the US’s total estimated shale oil reserves and covering roughly 1,750 square miles of the Californian wilderness, the Monterey field is a true giant which could turn California into the largest oil producing state in the country.
The existence of oil in the Monterey formation has been known for decades, but due to the complex geological formation it has remained out of reach. Gabriel Garcia, an assistant field manager at the federal Bureau of Land Management said that, “everyone has known that there is shale oil not just in the Monterey Shale but also in North Dakota and Wyoming and all over the country. Back in the ‘70s, there were discussions that there’s all this oil and all we’ve got to do is get it. Now 40 years later, the technologies have become available to actually get it in a cost-effective way.”
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Unlike fields such as Midwat-Sunset where the oil deposits are located less than 2,000 feet below the surface, the shale oil in the Monterey Shale formation is between 6,000 and 15,000 feet down.
Oil companies are rushing into the area and setting up offices in Bakersfield, all keen of the possibility of tapping into Monterey’s vast oil riches. Garcia noted that they have noticed far more interest in land leases over the past few years, which has seen prices soar. “Some of that has to do with speculation on new technologies, and some of that has to do with the high price of oil.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com