Shale oil, an alternative everybody likes?

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posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 05:17 PM
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I've noticed over my time here that there has been alot of attention put towards the billions (possibly trillions) of barrels of shale oil hidden below the rockies. Shale oil (otherwise referred to as Kerogen) is an alternative to the current crude we produce, but it's probably the most similar by our standards. Infact, shale oil is already produced into usable fuels at a small capacity. There is an estmated 1 trillion barrels hidden below the Rockies in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado:


The high cost of crude oil has many people looking for new sources of energy — and taking a second look at some old ideas. Oil shale is an idea that was tested a generation ago, then abandoned when the price of crude oil plunged. Now, a self-taught inventor is once again eyeing the vast shale deposits of the Rocky Mountains.

Byron Merrell steers his Chevy pickup along Highway 40 in eastern Utah, past the fiberglass dinosaurs that welcome tourists from the nearby national monument. Just outside the city of Vernal, he turns onto the "Bonanza Highway."

The highway is a remnant of the bonanza that was expected here a quarter-century ago. Back then, the nation was in the grips of another Iran-related oil crisis, and to many, this highway through the Utah desert seemed like the road to energy security.

"It was built by the county in the early '80s and late '70s, primarily for oil shale," Merill says. "And then when oil prices dropped to $9 or $10 a barrel, everyone folded their tent and left. It was kind of a dark day out here when all the jobs disappeared."

www.npr.org...

So why isn't shale produced to the same capacity as crude? Well apparently a significant amount of energy is used to produce usable shale oils as compared to crude. There have been attempts since the 70's to tap into shale resources in the rockies, but technology has not gotten far for a combination of reasons. As I understand, Shell is in that area testing ways to convert shale oil efficiently but no luck as of yet.

If we manage to convert shale oil efficiently and to the same capacity as crude oil, America could last for a good century without dependence on foreign oil. It is also an alternative that everybody can get behind. Newt Gingrich was pimpin' the shale oil reserves in the rockies as something he would definately support investment in (although I get the feeling he mistakened it for crude reserves). What do you all think? If we convert shale oil efficiently, we'll have a viable alternative fuel on our hands to last for some time.




posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 05:34 PM
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I would prefer we put more effort into petroleum alternatives. Do away with our oil dependence and concentrate on renewable energy.



posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 05:36 PM
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Originally posted by mileysubet
I would prefer we put more effort into petroleum alternatives. Do away with our oil dependence and concentrate on renewable energy.


Miley I agree with you there, but I believe we need to first get our immediate priorities in check and move people to an alternative petroleum, in this way can get the support we need before moving to safer renewable alternatives. I support a safer efficient way of converting shale oil, atleast to hold us off until technology improves and we develop renewables.



posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 05:49 PM
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Originally posted by Southern Guardian

Originally posted by mileysubet
I would prefer we put more effort into petroleum alternatives. Do away with our oil dependence and concentrate on renewable energy.


Miley I agree with you there, but I believe we need to first get our immediate priorities in check and move people to an alternative petroleum, in this way can get the support we need before moving to safer renewable alternatives. I support a safer efficient way of converting shale oil, atleast to hold us off until technology improves and we develop renewables.



Very true, even after the refinement of renewable energy alternatives the change over would take many years to complete based on technology alone. The mind set of the consumers of petrol. products though, will be a much more demanding task.

I have seen this in my own friends and family, it is very difficult to get people to change their way of thinking about energy use and recycling...like pulling teeth.



posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 05:52 PM
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Shale oil, is this not "frakking"?
I still prefer using renewable resources, solar, wind, Etc.
We will still need petroleum based goo but not nearly as much as many think.



posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 05:58 PM
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reply to post by Southern Guardian
 

I am trying to get a better understanding of this process, including costs, environmental impact, social issues, etc.

Oil Shale Mining and Processing

Oil shale can be mined using one of two methods: underground mining using the room-and-pillar method or surface mining. After mining, the oil shale is transported to a facility for retorting, a heating process that separates the oil fractions of oil shale from the mineral fraction.. The vessel in which retorting takes place is known as a retort. After retorting, the oil must be upgraded by further processing before it can be sent to a refinery, and the spent shale must be disposed of. Spent shale may be disposed of in surface impoundments, or as fill in graded areas; it may also be disposed of in previously mined areas. Eventually, the mined land is reclaimed. Both mining and processing of oil shale involve a variety of environmental impacts, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of mined land, disposal of spent shale, use of water resources, and impacts on air and water quality. The development of a commercial oil shale industry in the United States would also have significant social and economic impacts on local communities. Other impediments to development of the oil shale industry in the United States include the relatively high cost of producing oil from oil shale (currently greater than $60 per barrel), and the lack of regulations to lease oil shale.


Guess some new regulations will have to be drawn up before distributing. What do they mean by "leasing" oil shale? I am curious about how this will affect local communities. Jobs? Pollution? Water issues?


Both mining and processing of oil shale involve a variety of environmental impacts, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of mined land; impacts on wildlife and air and water quality. The development of a commercial oil shale industry in the U.S. would also have significant social and economic impacts on local communities. Of special concern in the relatively arid western United States is the large amount of water required for oil shale processing; currently, oil shale extraction and processing require several barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced, though some of the water can be recycled.

ostseis.anl.gov...
So the process could take 7 trillion barrels of water, some of which could be recycled. That is 350 trillion gallons right? The US uses about 4 trillion gallons per month source. So where will this water come from and what will happen to the waste that is unable to be recycled?
It sounds like a lot of money would be involved setting up a new specialized refinery, extracting, storing and distributing. Have any major companies put forth bids or proposals yet ? Or is this potentially too costly to become reality?
BLM has proposed going ahead with the development.

BLM is beginning the process by:

Updating the Oil Shale Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)
Development of Research Demonstration and Development (RD&D) Leases
Development of regulations that reflect current information and fair royalty rates.


Here are the guidelines for an environmental impact statement. source I wonder how long these things take to move through the "officializing" process?

We should be hearing more of this, unless it is deemed too complex or not profitable enough. Today is the first I have heard of it. If we haven't built any new refineries since the 70's and now with closing refineries, I bet the costs of producing this new energy source is tremendous. New plant and employees, electrical consumption, land leasing, water management, distribution...whew, a beast to tackle for sure.
Thanks for the thread on this SG.

spec
edit on 17-3-2012 by speculativeoptimist because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 06:03 PM
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Originally posted by g146541
Shale oil, is this not "frakking"?
I still prefer using renewable resources, solar, wind, Etc.
We will still need petroleum based goo but not nearly as much as many think.


Shale oil is crude oil that has been trapped within the shale rocks them self, in order to remove the oil from the shale the shale has to be removed from the ground.
Shale oil



Hydraulic fracturing (fraking) uses water (sometimes waste water and often laced with various chemicals) pumped at high pressure in order to fracture the rock structure and release the target product from the ground (usually methane in my area of Colorado but can be crude oil as well) Fraking



posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 06:26 PM
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We need to get off fossil fuels all together .. shale oil would just be a stop gap to lessen our dependance on the middle east..

But will it help prices? probably not .. truth is supply is high and demand is lower now, yet prices are high.. you can thank speculators for that. technically speaking, gas prices should be about 40-50% less than they are right now.. The system is busted thanks to greedy speculators ..



posted on Mar, 17 2012 @ 06:43 PM
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Originally posted by speculativeoptimist
reply to post by Southern Guardian
 

I am trying to get a better understanding of this process, including costs, environmental impact, social issues, etc.


I'm trying to get my head around it as well. I first heard about the hidden shale oils beneath the rockies in 2008. I thought they were talking about the typical crude we use and wondered to myself why we had not tapped into this resource. Then I did some digging, found out that these were shale oil reserves, not crude, and found out just how much energy and water resources it took to convert the shale toward a usable fuel similar to that as crude.... I mean they have had drilling and testing facilities in the rockies on shale oils since the late 1970's and yet after all those years, no break throughs in converting it safely and efficiently.....over a period of 30 years of investment. 7 trillion barrels of water needed to get the converting of shales to the same capacity as crude? I can see why so many oil companies have been turned off....





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