Oil and gas employers throughout the US and Canada need workers like never before. The demand just went up again because experts say there's another emerging oil & gas play: the Monterey Shale in California. This shale formation spans the San Joaquin Basin throughout the California counties of Kern, Orange, Ventura, Monterey, and Santa Barbara.
The Monterey Shale is a long, narrow rock formation that extends from northern California south to Los Angeles, offshore, and onto the outlying islands. Unlike other shale plays that are 300 million years old or older, the Monterey is five to 17 million years old - a baby in terms of geological formations. While there is a lot of recent interest, small volumes of oil and gas have been extracted from the Monterey Shale since the late 1800s, and the Central California Coast was once the biggest oil-producing region in the world.
While the Monterey Shale formation consists of both gas and oil, the U.S. Geological Survey has stated that it may contain upwards of 15.5 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil, more than North Dakota's Bakken and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, and possibly equaling half of all the oil in the entire country of Saudi Arabia.
Over the years, the Monterey Shale has posed challenges for drillers. Because the play is composed of a variety of substances, including chert, an extremely dense, hard rock consisting primarily of microcrystalline quartz, it has proven to be very difficult to drill.
Also, because of the San Andres fault, the layers of shale in the Monterey Shale play lie in accordion-like folds rather than stacked one layer on top of another. These folds do not always respond well to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves injecting the ground with water, sand and other chemicals to crack the rock and allow the oil to flow.
Another challenge to extraction in the Monterey Shale formation is a political one. The state is formally committed to have one-third of its energy come from cleaner, renewable sources by 2020, and California is also the home for a powerful environmental movement that has voiced opposition to development of the Monterey Shale.
Drilling for oil and gas produces something that both the politicians and citizens of the state of California are in favor of: more jobs. Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be added to the California economy, including:
And many others - directly and indirectly tied to production activities! You'll find a wide variety of jobs in the booming California oil market, from laborer to management positions.