California Sitting On Untapped Oil Formation Four Times Larger Than North Dakota’s Bakken


Here in North Dakota the politicians like to say we’re the envy of the nation. And there’s a lot of truth in that. Not only is our state budget balanced, it’s running surpluses because oil development and production is driving a booming economy that is, in turn, driving big tax revenues into state coffers.

California, on the other hand, is not the envy of the nation. The state’s finances are in woeful condition. They have a budget deficit measured in the billions of dollars that policymakers are trying to solve with massive tax hikes, and their unfunded obligations to state pensions are out of control. The state’s economy isn’t doing so great either, with unemployment still lingering in the double digits.

Setting aside the debate over California’s spending (too much) and taxes (too high), they are sitting on what could be a gold mine for the state in terms of growing the economy and producing more tax revenues without having to raise taxes. You see, under southern California lays the Monterrey Formation, which could hold as much as four times more oil than the world-famous Bakken formation in North Dakota:

According to the EIA, the Monterrey Formation, which covers an enormous chunk of Southern California and terminates near Santa Barbara, has 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable crude — four times as much as the Bakken formation in North Dakota. On Dec. 12, the Bureau of Land Management will begin auctioning off more than 17,000 acres in the formation.

California’s problem? State lawmakers have foolishly created a mandate for at least 33% of the energy produced in the state to come from expensive, unreliable “green energy” sources:

The problem is, California has committed to getting a third of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, the paper writes. So the state risks getting left behind as the rest of the world dives into shale, it says.

California has a lot of problems they need to fix in terms of spending and taxes. But something they could do to help without even touching on those stick problems is to clear the regulatory path for shale oil development in the state.

But, California being California, they probably won’t.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • JT

    Nope, we’re to busy fretting over tax credits for movie producers!

  • toppr8

    Go get the oil. We created the Dept of Energy to lead us to energy independence. We have been going in the wrong direction since that time. Here is an opportunity to bring us closer to that, and to help out a state that needs a financial boost!

  • RCND

    Screw em.

    Lets use some of our surplus to pay interests in Nevada to horizontal drill it from underneath their over-regulated feet. Then we can have a piece of this action too. Nevada’s economy would get a nice boost too

  • Harold

    Californians are to dumb to drill for this oil. Legalizing marijuana is more important to them then using fuel to grow food.

    • chris

      Although, hemp can be used as a biofuel:

      It grows faster than corn, and it can grow on infertile soil which frees up primary farm land for food. In other words, it would be cheaper than other crops and it wouldn’t affect food prices.

      • The Fighting Czech

        Just switch to Switch Grass. More Productive then Corn, easy to grow, standard haying practices apply. and No Hippies trying to steal your crop!!!!!!

  • two_amber_lamps

    Yes Leftist Republic of Kalifornia… home of unbridled statist failure. Stay the course, you can do it!!

    • $8194357

      FORWARD comrade…

  • Mr. Practical

    Another example of you cannot have a rational discussion and decision from irrational people…

  • $8194357

    So lets Dems and RINO’s alike tax em and put EPA regulations on them “here” where cold wether makes it harder more expensive to drill and send them packing to the
    left coast? Greedy ND politicians.
    Of course Hiedi will work things out huh.

  • The Fighting Czech

    That sure wouldnt do the labor shortage in ND any good, especially in the Winter Months….IF they actually were to go after the oil. OF course all some one has to do is put a Spotted Owl somewhere in the vicinity, and that would put an end to that…..

  • Jaypauljones

    Then I say F them, let them suffer