America's power play

US officials cut shale estimates by two-thirds

Pump jacks in an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation near Lost Hills, Calif.
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Those hoping for a "black gold" rush in California better not wait with bated breath. Federal energy authorities are now echoing the doubts many industry officials have held for years—we could end up recovering only a tiny fraction of the shale oil in California's sprawling Monterey deposit, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The new estimate from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, expected to be released in June, says drillers are likely to extract only about 600 million barrels of oil from the reserve that extends across much of central California. That's 96 percent less than the 13.7 billion barrels previously predicted—which was expected to bring in almost 2.8 million jobs and more than $24 billion in tax revenue, the newspaper said.

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It also means a reserve containing two-thirds of the shale oil crucial to America's vaunted shale energy boom is actually "stagnant," analyst John Staub, who led the agency's study, told the newspaper.

Experts said Monterey Shale still could become more productive as technologies and methods adapt to deal with the seismic problems in the area's rock formation.

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Here is the full article in the Los Angeles Times.