Monterey Shale

California is sitting on a massive amount of shale oil and could become the next oil boom state. But only if the industry can get the stuff out of the ground without upsetting the state’s powerful environmental lobby. Running from Los Angeles to San Francisco, California’s Monterey Shale is thought to contain more oil than North Dakota’s Bakken and Texas’s Eagle Ford — both scenes of an oil boom that’s created thousands of jobs and boosted U.S. oil production to the highest rate in over a decade.

California regulators released the state’s first draft regulations for hydraulic fracturing. The industry views the move as a positive start to drive oil and gas development in California, which has some of the strictest well safety regulations. The move could result in dramatic expansion of drilling activities in the state’s Monterey Shale, a major oil play that could substantially contribute to the domestic energy supply.

On December 18, 2012, California’s Department of Conservation released preliminary regulations for hydraulic fracturing, after a series of public discussions held this year to address environmental concerns. The draft rules, if passed, would require drilling companies to test well integrity and report test results to regulators before beginning fracturing operations. The proposal also seeks to require companies to maintain an online database of fracturing locations and chemical composition of fracturing fluids. It would however, provide an exemption for operators seeking protection for proprietary chemical composition information. The formal rulemaking process, expected to begin in early 2013 with further public hearings, could be finalized in about one year. Keep reading →