Ever since a federal report highlighted the significant amount of oil and gas trapped in California's Monterey Shale, the debate about hydraulic fracturing has heated up in the state.
In December, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) released a set of draft regulations that would impose a range of new monitoring and disclosure requirements on companies that use fracking in the Golden State. Although the agency has maintained that the draft was composed with the goal of initiating a public discussion, it is clear that regulatory officials intend to move forward with a formal rulemaking process in the near future.
Concurrently, numerous members of the state legislature have proposed bills to update the state's tax and regulatory systems in response to the increase in oil and gas production from shale rock and other unconventional sources. During the current lawmaking session, at least eight separate proposals dealing with changes in the industry will be taken up for consideration.
What's behind the heightened focus on fracking in California?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California could hold as much as 60 percent of the shale oil reserves contained in the lower 48 states. With more than 15 billion barrels trapped in the Monterey and Santos Shales, lawmakers and energy companies face strong incentives to ensure that production operations run smoothly, particularly in this time of tight budgets and sluggish growth.
For their part, producers will need to implement and maintain high-quality oil production equipment in order to guarantee that they are extracting resources in a safe and efficient manner. This is a particular concern in California, as the state's shale plays present operators of oil and gas wells with unique geological challenges, due to heightened seismic activity in the region.