April 08, 2009
Cheaper Way To Extract Oil Shale Found?

How about a 2/3rds reduction in the price of oil extraction from oil shale?

More recently, companies such as Royal Dutch Shell have developed ways to tap the oil in situ, by drilling boreholes that are thousands of feet deep and feeding into them inch-thick cables that are heated using electrical resistance and that literally cook the surrounding rock. The kerogen liquefies and gradually pools around an extraction well, where the oil-like fluid can easily be pumped to the surface.

The process involves no mining, uses less water than other approaches, and doesn't leave behind man-made mountains of kerogen-sapped shale. And according to a Rand Corporation study, it can also be done at a third of the cost of mining and surface processing.

An affordable way to extract oil from oil shale would make the United States into one of the best places to be when conventional worldwide oil production starts its final decline. The US has an amount of oil in shale equal to about 25 years of oil supply at the world's current oil consumption rate.

Will technological innovations push off the date of Peak Oil or at least greatly slow the oil production decline rate?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 April 08 11:10 PM  Energy Fossil Fuels

Engineer-Poet said at April 9, 2009 5:33 AM:

IIRC, the EROEI of Shell's process is only about 3, which is far too low to be economical (especially given the long delay between investment and return).

It appears to me that THAI (Toe to Heel Air Injection) in tar sands (especially Canada's) is far more promising.  It has far less energy invested than oil shale or even conventional tar sands (it gets most of it from combustion of coked bitumen) and it is in operation today.

Shakespeare of Technology said at April 10, 2009 12:11 PM:

Small scale nuclear power applied to oil shale and tar sands makes a great deal of sense as well. Shell is making progress, and it does no one any good to dismiss steady improvement.

Engineer-Poet said at April 10, 2009 3:17 PM:

How far away is this small-scale nuclear?  I don't think there's enough time.

cancer_man said at April 13, 2009 5:37 PM:

"Shell is making progress, and it does no one any good to dismiss steady improvement."

I don't think Randall is part of the group, but it does many on the left good to dismiss steady improvement.

JaeC said at April 15, 2009 9:28 PM:

I doesn't really matter. The Dem's quietly reimplemented their Shale to Oil ban, offshore drilling ban, and coal to synthetic diesel(you can make it for ~$0.90 a gallon)in the US in I believe February 2009 after letting the ban's expire in August of last year for fear of giving the Repub's a popular issue. Classic case of pandering then reverting back to their Core Value's of no domestic energy production. Makes me sick

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