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United States Earth Power

US Officials Cut Estimate of Recoverable Monterey Shale Oil By 96% 411

First time accepted submitter steam_cannon (1881500) writes "The U.S. Energy Information Administration ( is planning to release a major 96% reserve downgrade to the amount of oil and gas recoverable from the Monterey Shale formation, one of the largest oil/gas reserves in the United States. After several years of intensified exploration the Monterey oil shale play seems to have much less recoverable oil and gas then previously hoped. This is due to multiple factors such as the more complex rippled geology of the shale and over-hyped recovery estimates by investors. By official estimates the Monterey Shale formation makes up 2/3 of the shale reserves in the US and by some estimates 1/3 of all crude reserves in the US. Not a drop in the bucket. Next Month the will be announcing cutting it's estimates for Monterey by 96%. That's a huge blow to the US energy portfolio, trillions of dollars, oil and gas the US might have used for itself or exported. Presently the White House is evaluating making changes to US oil export restrictions so this downgrade may result in changes to US energy policy. As well as have a significant impact on US economy and the economy of California."
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US Officials Cut Estimate of Recoverable Monterey Shale Oil By 96%

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  • Re:Who the heck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @03:38AM (#47063659) Journal
    The important point is, they are cutting the estimate by 96% of recoverable oil. The oil is there, but not recoverable as easily as in Texas or North Dakota. It's been push deeper by heavy seismic activity in the area.
  • by anubi ( 640541 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @03:44AM (#47063689) Journal
    First, I will say I have worked for a major oil company.

    Second, I will say I have read "Twilight in the Desert" by Matthew Simmons, was an ardent follower of The Oil Drum [] petroleum web site - was more active there than I am here.. That site was full of petroleum engineers and field guys - and I trusted their insight far more than I trust words from any investment advisor sitting behind desk whose job it is to influence my decisions of how to allocate my retirement savings.

    And Third, I will say I swallowed the "Peak Oil" paradigm hook line and sinker. Apparently messed up my retirement savings big time by investing in the energy sector as I believed with all my heart that we were in serious decline.

    Suddenly fracking made the scene and all the investment buyers saw energy as plentiful again. And the price dropped, And many of the smaller guys sold out.

    I cannot help but wonder if all this panic talk is them yet rounding up another round of panicky people and investors to make a poor investment.

    I can't help but remember all this talk about how dire our energy situation was coming from our leaders. Then there is no energy crisis, Then there is.

    Almost sounds like Donovan singing about petroleum. First there is a crisis, then there is no crisis, then there is.

    We pay countless taxes into our government, and countless well-paid bureaucrats are supposed to be leading us, but does anyone up there really know what's going on?

    So far, they seem to rank about as reliable as an ouija board.

    How in the hell can anyone make rational decisions when no-one seems to take this stuff seriously? It seems lately all our government has wanted to so is snoop. 96% is a helluva big number.

    I believe special interest tie guys have the government release all these "facts" in order to manipulate the market.

    When I saw fracking, I was and still am concerned that was equivalent to "blowing the gas cap" on a dying oil well as once we relieved the subterranean pressure that was helping to push what was left of the liquid oil to the surface, we were draining the last "fart" from the earth before there was no longer enough energy recoverable from the lift effort than we were able to recover from the oil lifted. It meant the show was over.

    I remain very concerned this whole fracking "happy days are here again" thing has been nothing more than a ploy to get control of the remaining oil reserves at a bargain basement price.
  • Re:Keystone XL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @04:29AM (#47063833)

    Obama is looking to the future of death by oil carrying rail car.

    Seriously I work in oil and gas. There pipeline will do NOTHING to hinder or advance the state of green energy. People have product and will sell product and there are plenty of people who want the product given it is sold at an incredible discount to standard oil. One way or the other the oil will get to its customers.

    And the result is:
    2008: 9500 railcar loads of oil in the USA.
    2014: forward estimates indicate 650000 railcar loads of oil in the USA.

    No that wasn't a typo. [] If you're going to transport oil you may as well do it safely. If Obama wants to actually push an environmental agenda then do so economically rather than playing with people's lives and potential oil spills.

  • Amen. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @05:16AM (#47063981)

    The potential ecological disasters created by such a massive shale extraction operation just ain't worth it. Monterey is surrounded by one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse coastlines in the world, and they want to jeopardise it to get some short-term, supporting an industry wihich is basicallty like America's crack dealer, and every year seems to report record profits. Wat?

    It's the 21st century and we're still having these sorts of conversations about oil? Christ almighty, find another source of energy already, or consider slgihtly changing your behavior. If for nothing else, do it for the children.

  • Mistakes in article? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @05:35AM (#47064019)

    Maybe I'm confused, but there seem to be a couple of problems in the article, regarding distance and location. One paragraph says, "The problem lies with the geology of the Monterey Shale, a 1,750-mile formation running down the center of California roughly from Sacramento to the Los Angeles basin and including some coastal regions."

    In the article's map, the northernmost formation point is south of San Francisco, way south of Sacramento. And even if the Monterey Shale went all the way up to Sacramento, it's still way less than 1,750 miles from Sacramento to LA.

    Also, according to, Monterey Shale is just that one large section that's about 1/4 the length of California. Monterey Shale doesn't include the smaller costal regions.

    I'm not trying to be critical, but if the article has mistakes regarding distance and location, I wonder if it might also have a mistake regarding volume of oil.

  • Re:Keystone XL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @06:24AM (#47064179)

    pipeline's leak lead to bigger spills.

    Every drop of oil that goes through the keystone pipeline will be refined and then shipped to Europe. The companies behind the pipeline have stated as much.

    The overall effect on of the pipeline is something like .05% of the world's demand. it isn't but a drop in the bucket.

    Smart people would drain the oil away from the middle east first and save the Canadian oil for when things get bad in 50 years.

  • Re:Who the heck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRealHocusLocus ( 2319802 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @07:03AM (#47064307)

    Don't worry, you're on the forefront of slashdot's latest trend: not even reading the headline. After the long-held tradition of no one reading the article, we migrated in recent years to no one reading the summary, and now we are finally achieving are long-awaited goal.

    Don't worry, you're on the forefront of Slashdot's ugliest trend, where Poor Impulse Control and the desire to push out smart-ass remarks takes over other cognitive functions. For an additional empty hooty-laugh the comments are 'further refined' so that they resemble compliments at first glance.

    Like a blacksmith who is beating out misshapen horseshoes with full knowledge that his shoddy product will only disturb the beast's gait and cause discomfort and injury -- the final act is one of omission, where the smith chooses not to punch in the mark that identifies him with the product. 'Post anonymously' -- check!

    In the smithies of Slashdot ACs have contributed much to discussion and they post anonymously for many good reasons. But too often it is used as a vehicle of anonymity when farting around the campfire.

    In human discourse it is appropriate to reward the introspective self-effacing remark politely with a silent nod supportive assent, as if to say, "There, but for the Grace of God, go I." Or if you are an atheist, "Well fuck. You can't fall off the floor."

  • Re:Keystone XL (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @07:47AM (#47064505)

    Quite a few smart people, including me, are profoundly disturbed by the safety problems with nuclear fuels and by their limited reserves. Refining U-235 is quite expensive to fuel grade is quite expensive, and quite toxic. Moreover, the current reserves will only supply about 200 years of energy _at current rates of consumption_. That's currently roughly 12% of world energy production, for roughly 6 billion people, with many in dire poverty and quite low energy consumption.

    If we assume that nuclear consumption grows by a factor of 4 due to increased population and increased reliance on nuclear fuels, and reduced by a factor of 2 by switching to breeder reactors and improving efficiency, it's still only a 100 year supply. And as reserves drop, it's going to become much more expensive to mine as the more accessible reserves are consumed,

    Fusion has _never_ worked as a fuel source. The main sources of the requisite deuterium and/or tritium are the ordinary fission reactors. Given the limited availability and difficulty of refining the necessary deuterium and/or tritium from any natural source, it is unlikely to ever _be_ an effective fuel source. Even the cold fusion experiments, if successful, promised no solution to providing the necessary fuel source. So one should not rely on fusion ever being useful for energy until it is either able to use plain hydrogen. (Yes, the sun uses plain hydrogen: no, it's not a method that can fit in a normal Earth based fusion reactor.)

    Perhaps, in theory, one could refine fusion fuels from solar wind, which is unusually rich in such isotopes. But if one has a large collecting surface in orbit to gather solar wind, why not use that as a direct solar mirror and gather the much higher density and safer optical energy for ordinary solar power? A 100 meter diameter solar mirror gathers approximately 40 MW of power. With typical American energy consumption at approximately 1 kW, that is enough energy for roughly 40,000 Americans.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @08:47AM (#47064851)

    And Third, I will say I swallowed the "Peak Oil" paradigm hook line and sinker. Apparently messed up my retirement savings big time by investing in the energy sector as I believed with all my heart that we were in serious decline.

    Distinguishing local and global maxima of functions may be difficult, but in itself it does not negate the existence of global maxima of functions as such. We started oil production at one point in time, where the immediate production was zero. At one point in time in the future, it will be zero again, even if we manage to pump everything there is, simply because it's a finite amount of it. So that's zeros in two points with non-zeros in between. My math skills may be rusty, but I vaguely recall that a such a continuous function necessarily has a global maximum. That's not a "peak oil paradigm", that's basic logic. The fact that you mistook a local maximum for a global one is irrelevant.

  • Re:Good. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:11AM (#47065031)

    Don't bother. Republicans live in a world in which no drilling occurs during a democratic administration. That's why we still hear how turrible Obummer is to the oil industry. How he's ruined that resource for the US even though we're producing more oil now than ever. We're now a net exporter of oil; but Obama ruined it. Can't squeeze a single drop of oil out of the ground with Obummer in office.

    And the constant mentioning of ANWR by Republicans again shows how shortsighted they are. Republican, the part of security and homeland defense. They'll keep us safe, but they want to tap a moderate resource for oil and gas (mean estimate of 10.6 bbl) which won't effect the market in any noticeable way instead of preserving it as a strategic resource so when the shit hits the fan we have 10.6 bbl to ourselves. Right now every drop of that 10.6 bbl goes on the market for Indian and China. Republicans, just thinking about you.

  • Re:Not quite right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:15AM (#47065073)

    Un-mingling the electrons in the grid graph edges wouldn't change the sources and sinks.

    Quite correct and exactly my point.

    Unfortunately it does create the potential problem of being unable to verify the sources meaning the power company could (theoretically) be lying to raise profits. Let's say hypothetically that the wind turbines they are pulling from can generate 100MW (made up nice round number) and the trains need 200MW (again a made up number) to operate. The power company could just say the wind turbines can generate 200MW (who's going to check?) and make up the difference by buying/generating the power from other cheaper sources but allowing them to bill more. Only way to be sure this isn't happening is to audit them.

  • Re:Good. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:47AM (#47065395)

    No, in the US it was the progressive liberal democrats in the south who fought a civil war against the conservative republicans in the north to keep their slaves. When defeated, the progressive liberal democrats created the KKK, implemented segregation, fought against civil rights laws and used various other tactics for over a century while the conservatives fought for individual freedom and equal opportunity. Please take off your rose colored glasses before looking back at history.

  • Re:Good. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @10:59AM (#47066203)

    We've had solar panels since the 1970s and they could repay their energy investment in seven years back then. Now it's three.

    It's easy to see why most individuals haven't done this - they haven't done the cost-benefit calculation themselves, there are large (relatively) one-time costs for installation, and so on. But what about industry? Why hasn't every large factory in Arizona put solar panels on their roof yet? Surely they have accountants and technical staff who are capable of accurately calculating the benefits and arranging for the installation. Either all these people are wrong (rather hard to believe), or solar panels have not actually yet reached the point of commercial viability.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky