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Extracting Oil From Shale

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#1 Chris Haslego

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 03:46 PM

On June 1, USA Today ran an article on Shell Chemical's renewed excitement about the possibility of "cooking" oil out of the oil shales in Colorado.

The reserves locked up in the shales are said to be expansive (I've read anywhere from 1.7 to 2.5 trillion barrels). The newest technology being discussed entails heating the rocks to 700 °F and "floating" the oil to the surface. There are two reasons that this new technique is getting some attention:

1. Traditionally, the price of oil had to remain above $40 per barrel for oil shale mining to be competitive on the world market. It's been above $40/barrel since about August of 2004.

2. Previous methods involved transporting the oil-laden rock as a slurry so that additional processing could be done on the surface.

Compared with traditional oil reserves which yield anywhere from 20 to 80 barrels of oil for each barrel spend collecting the oil, shale oil takes about 1 to 1.5 barrels to produce 3. Then, there's another issue in Colorado and that would be the lack of ample water supplies needed for the exploration.

The mere fact that Shell allowed USA Today to run the story is probably an indication that they're growing confident in the technology. A reliable means of extracting this oil would give the world what it needs most right now on the way to the future of energy.......more time.

If you'd like to read more about shale oil, check out these links:

Oil Shales on Wikipedia

Rocky Mountain News Article

#2 JMW


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Posted 16 June 2008 - 11:04 AM

Surprising what the price of oil can do.... or not so surprising... but I think you have your answer today; the current price of oil is such that shale oil is in use.
A problem with shale oil would appear to be phenols. Where it is used for marine fuels vessel crews have been unable to enter certain areas due to the fumes. CBI engineering has produced a new vent filter (activated carbon) to help solve this problem.
As usual, each new advance brings new problems to solve, but that is why we have engineers.

#3 djack77494


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Posted 16 June 2008 - 04:40 PM

Oil is a commodity product and it does respond to the laws of supply and demand. Unfortunately (or not?) the demand is fairly inelastic in the short term; this is not true in the long term. The major oil companies are very conservative in the assumptions they make, and they are extremely slow to adjust their (long term) assumed oil prices. Even several years of high crude prices results in very little movement of their assumed crude price. Thus it takes quite a while for them to reach the points where more expensive and risky recovery techniques are justified. Despite this, the prolonged period of high oil prices we've been experiencing is getting to where some of the majors can justify going after these reserves; more will follow. There are major capital projects underway to tap into previously marginal reserves, including tar sands, very heavy oils, very deep reserves, etc. It's just a matter of time, and probably not much of that, before oil shales get a long hard look. High crude prices will justify high development costs followed by increased supplies.

#4 StealthProg


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Posted 09 January 2010 - 05:34 AM

Oil Shale has been a source of fuel for decades in some parts of the FSU. Phenols as mentioned are a major issue, you have to do some pretty heavy and costly processing before you get anything like a western spec product out of the stuff. The economics are not great but a permanently high oil price would help, so it may eventually become a reality on a large scale as oil resources dwindle and the price rockets.

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