The New York Times published an amusing article about a “vast” shale oil field in California. I think these are the money quotes:
Comprising two-thirds of the United States’s total estimated shale oil reserves and covering 1,750 square miles from Southern to Central California, the Monterey Shale could turn California into the nation’s top oil-producing state and yield the kind of riches that far smaller shale oil deposits have showered on North Dakota and Texas.
For decades, oilmen have been unable to extricate the Monterey Shale’s crude because of its complex geological formation, which makes extraction quite expensive. But as the oil industry’s technological advances succeed in unlocking oil from increasingly difficult locations, there is heady talk that California could be in store for a new oil boom.
Though production has been declining for years, California remains the country’s fourth-largest oil-producing state, after Texas, North Dakota and Alaska. So far, little of the crude is derived from the Monterey Shale, whose untapped deposits are estimated at 15.4 billion barrels, or more than four times the reserves of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.
What the article fails to note is that calling this field “vast” is utterly laughable. Ghawar is (was) vast.
Quote #1: This field is two thirds of our total estimated shale oil reserves and it is only 15.4 billion barrels (see quote #3). We American use 20 million barrels per day. Do the math. That’s about 750 days of oil if you could pump 100 percent of it.
Quote #2: That oil companies are looking for new technologies to make expensive drilling worth the effort means that all the easy-to-get stuff is gone or already in the process of being pumped/depleted.
Quote#3: That uptick in U.S. oil production you’ve heard about? Well, here’s what it really looks like. We can’t get back to the levels of production we saw around 1970 because we just don’t have enough oil that’s easy or cost-effective enough to “recover.” Energy independence based on oil — drill, baby, drill — is a dream that can’t come true.
The only solution I can think of is burn less oil. I wonder how we can do that 😉