The which lies beneath much of central California, could hold more than 15 billion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration – about three times the reserves believed to be in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. But according to an analysis by The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, because production is dependent on water-intense hydraulic fracturing, much of that oil may never be produced.
The most obvious – and ominous - issue identified Carnegie is water scarcity. California is enduring extreme drought, with 2013 being the driest year ever in the state. In addition, conflicts with agricultural production are huge. The chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing present contamination threats to dwindling groundwater resources. The threat of induced seismicity from wastewater injection in an earthquake-prone state like California is self-evident. And California’s geology is much more complex than that of North Dakota or Texas.
All of these water-borne risks and their impacts on people, the natural world - and the oil/gas industry - should sound familiar to readers of this blog.
Will the Golden State provide a compelling business case for an urgent drive to waterless, chemical-free fracking?