Energy Information Administration officials told reporters on Wednesday that they are cutting their estimate of how much oil can be drawn out of California's massive Monterey Shale formation by a whopping 96 percent.
The news deals a serious blow to the fracking industry and has environmentalists cheering as momentum builds behind a legislative effort to put a moratorium on fracking in California. The estimate will be released publically next month, according to reports.
In 2012, the federal officials estimated that 13.7 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from the Monterey Shale. The EIA now says that only 600 million barrels of oil can be recovered using existing technologies such as acid treatment and fracking, the controversial oil and gas technique that involves forcing millions of gallons of water laced with silica and chemicals deep underground to break up rock formations.
The earlier estimate was based on a 2011 study by an EIA contractor that assumed the industry's latest extraction techniques would make the Monterey's reserves as easy to recover as those in shale formations under Texas and North Dakota, where fracking technology has fueled ongoing oil and gas booms. But the geological formations in the Monterey Shale, it turns out, are not as easily punctured because they have been impacted by seismic activity.