Is the time right to revisit Oil Shale?

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posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 08:16 AM
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During the oil embargos of the 1970s, the US began looking toward extracting oil from Oil Shale..which isn't really oil but a similar product obtained by applying heat.

With the issue of Peak Oil and the current situaion in dealing with environmentalist and Arab oil barrons, we might see a new trend toward this idea once more. The research facility I used to work for did an exploratory project in the 70s for the Dept of Energy in Kentucky to verify and quantitate the in-situ desposites of Oil Shale..and from my understanding this was a nation-wide endeavor.


Some more info on Oil Shale


CAER

Desert News

Patriot Energy





The term "oil shale" is a misnomer. It does not contain oil nor is it commonly shale. The organic material is chiefly kerogen, and the "shale" is usually a relatively hard rock, called marl. Properly processed, kerogen can be converted into a substance somewhat similar to petroleum. However, it has not gone through the "oil window" of heat (nature’s way of producing oil) and therefore, to be changed into an oil-like substance, it must be heated to a high temperature. By this process the organic material is converted into a liquid, which must be further processed to produce an oil which is said to be better than the lowest grade of oil produced from conventional oil deposits, but of lower quality than the upper grades of conventional oil.



World Energy

Fossil Energy




posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 08:29 AM
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The oil sands in Alberta have more oil than the combined known oil reserves of both Saudia Arabia and Iraq put together. The world is still full of oil we just dont have the easy to find oil. How much is in northern Canada?



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 08:43 AM
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I know that oil shale has been used in the past in australia. While its worthwhile to revisit it as an economic alternative to oil, if we wished to continue down the path of fossil fuels as our primary fuel source for energy and transportation methane hydrates should be explored further IMO(though methane as a greenhouse gas concerns me greatly).

thanks,
drfunk



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 08:45 AM
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Originally posted by drfunk
(though methane as a greenhouse gas concerns me greatly).

thanks,
drfunk


the most abundant greenhouse gas is not methane or carbon dioxide for that matter, it is h2o or water



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 09:06 AM
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I am fully aware that water vapor is the largest greenhouse gas, however it is never long mixed in the atmosphere nor is it believed that human activities have affected the concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere.

My concern for methane is its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere. The GWP (or global warming potential) baseline unit is carbon dioxide, which has a value of 1. Methane has a value of 21(i think the latest assessment is 23). This means what for each tonne of methane compared to carbon dioxide has 21 times the global warming potential over 100 years compared to carbon dioxide. Another huge increase in the concentration of methane could be devestating.

So there-in lies my concern for methane hydrates

thanks,
drfunk



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 09:13 AM
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Originally posted by bigx01
The oil sands in Alberta have more oil than the combined known oil reserves of both Saudia Arabia and Iraq put together. The world is still full of oil we just dont have the easy to find oil. How much is in northern Canada?


Yes, and from one article I referenced, the Oil Shale in the US could prove just as viable as the oil sands in Alberta.




Commercializing the vast oil shale resources would complement the mission of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, by measurably adding to the country's energy resource base. Addition of shale oil to the country's proved oil reserves could occur in a manner similar to the addition of 175 billion barrels of oil from Alberta tar sands to Canada's proved oil reserves. As a result of the commercial success, oil from tar sand production now exceeds one million barrels per day. Oil shale in the United States, which is as rich as tar sand, could similarly be developed and become a vital component in America's future energy security.



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 09:19 AM
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Astrocrep now that you mention the crisis of the 70s, I remember the lines back them, do you think that the reason we are having all this problem with the oil is because the change of dependency on foreign oil after the scare of the 70s?

Could it have been just a hoax to keep our oil safe and switch to oil from other countries?

I know is just a though.



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 09:31 AM
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I think anyone who’s read my posts understands that I am not a petroleum geologist, but I have work experience in the energy field. One of the many things I don’t know much about is oil shale, so what I’m posting is based on a very cursory examination of the resource, its potentials, and considerations involved in its extraction. Here are some of the things I’ve gleaned:

According to Astrocreep’s citations (in particular, Patriot Energy Corporation ( www.infinitebang.com... ) oil shale is best mined via the open-pit approach, which allows for full extraction, but leaves huge (three or four mile square) holes in the ground, which permanently “uglify” and damage the area’s ecosystem; or require a lot of money to bring back to the original look – which costs, of course are amortized by the people who use the oil.

The Alberta-Taciuk Processor (ATP) Retort proposed for the processing is touted as “ energy self-sufficient and mechanically simple … dry process … no tailing ponds … low operating costs and flexibility in construction that permits staged development.” I’d never heard of the ATP process and spent about a half-hour researching it; it’s a nifty approach, and anyone interested in the engineering aspects should Google it. ATP is probably the way to go for oil shale exploitation, and, although it really isn’t completely energy self-sufficient, it does produce quite a bit of the heat by burning the shale itself. It also is relatively water-intensive, and this is a bad thing, since much of the oil shale deposits in the United States are in the relatively arid West.

Since the oil-shale recovery approach is small-scale, it’s difficult to find a handle on the costs, but I have seen off-the-cuff estimates tossed around like 8 to 12 dollars per barrel for a mature oil-shale approach (of course, the costs are higher now, because oil shale technology is still relatively new). The best overview I have found for oil shale is a quote from the World Energy Council ( www.worldenergy.org... ), which states:

”Perhaps oil shale will eventually find a place in the world economy, but the energy demands of blasting, transport, crushing, heating and adding hydrogen, together with the safe disposal of huge quantities of waste material, are large. On a small scale, and with good geological and other favorable conditions, such as water supply, oil shale may make a modest contribution but so far shale oil remains the "elusive energy".

In summary, it does not look like oil shale is a viable candidate right now to replace petroleum wells, given the environmental, extraction, and processing costs.

But there is another consideration which (at least in my opinion) obviates against oil shale exploitation. Regardless of the recovery and environmental amelioration costs, if we follow the oil-shale recovery approach, we will still be adding a few more decades of hydrocarbon-burning to an already-stressed Earth; developing an infrastructure which will not be able to be used when we switch over to a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective means of generating power, and wasting precious time and lung tissue by putting off development and implementation of a better approach to energy production.

I think large-scale oil shale recovery is a bad idea.



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 10:20 AM
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Originally posted by marg6043
Astrocrep now that you mention the crisis of the 70s, I remember the lines back them, do you think that the reason we are having all this problem with the oil is because the change of dependency on foreign oil after the scare of the 70s?

Could it have been just a hoax to keep our oil safe and switch to oil from other countries?

I know is just a though.


Who the hell really knows? Its tough to get a handle on the reality of this situation since its marred by every Tom, Dick, and Harry with their own personal interests at stake...ie..lining their own pockets or putting forward their own agenda of control. What it all boils down to is that a report is just a piece of papyrus and whether or not whats written on it really represents whats really in the ground is very much in the hands of the writer. Thus, we can have reports coming from and cited by several different sources..such as in the 70s when we were supposedly "out of oil" and "on the brink of economic disaster".

Perspective tells us hind sight is 20/20 such as the old saying goes but looking ahead to the future, I'm afraid all any of us have to go on is information which has a great capacity to be influenced by those seeking a specific outcome.

There in lies the difference between exact amounts and estimated amounts which is really all we have. Living most of my life in the coal fields of East KY, I can tell ya that the estimates are not always on the money. As the technology to explore and actually look underground gets better then so does the validity of those estimates. I think we're seeing a good deal of re-filling of oil into once drained reserves. Now whether this from natural drainage in surrounding fractured rock or upwelling from deeper sources within the earth is the question. I can tell you that I don't personally belive all oil is from fossil source. There's just too damn much of it for one thing. But thats leads to questions of the timeline we now used for the life of the planet. It may all be from fossils but there may well be descrepancies in how we are viewing prehistoric periods.

Like I said, who the hell really knows for sure? When we have a barrel of oil pumped out of the ground, then we have a barrel of oil and not until then. If there is one thing we can be sure of, its uncertainties.



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 10:24 AM
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Originally posted by Off_The_Street

I think large-scale oil shale recovery is a bad idea.


You may very well be right and I agree with your scenario about building a short-lived expensive infrastructure around it...however, it is being heavily considered by those in the know which may mean we are further from a truly efficient alternative energy source than we know. If they are willing to explore the cost of refining Oil Shale, it may mean they are looking at a quick fix to allow someone else to solve the real problem down the road. They may also be looking to the semi-successful oil sand venture which many of these articles refer.



posted on Apr, 8 2005 @ 10:30 AM
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I agree with you Astrocreep we can only listen to what the "experts" are telling us and believe it.

I also have the feeling that oil is not all from fossil fuel.





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