Industrialized Cyclist Notepad


Robert Rapier explains “oil shale”
April 4, 2012, 12:27
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Oil shale” is not oil. It’s more like coal. And oil shale is not shale oil. It’s more like snake oil.

In order to commercially convert the oil shale into oil, a more energy efficient method of producing it must be found (or, one would have to have extremely cheap energy and abundant water supplies to drive the process). I have heard from multiple industry sources that the energy return for producing oil from oil shale is around 4 to 1 (lower than for oil sands production), and that is before refining the oil to finished products. At this sort of energy return, oil sands will continue to be a more economical heavy oil option.

Thus, my prediction is that despite having an oil shale resource that may indeed be far greater than the oil resources of Saudi Arabia (I don’t think I have seen an estimate of Saudi’s total oil resources), the reserve will continue to be close to zero for the foreseeable future because there are still many technical hurdles to overcome to realize a scalable, commercially viable process.

Finally, I would say that if a commercially viable process for shale oil production from the Green River formation is developed, the environmental blowback will be enormous. The production of shale oil is more energy intensive (i.e., has higher carbon emissions) than for the oil sands, it has a high water requirement in a dry climate, and it is potentially a huge new source of carbon dioxide emissions.  …

via The Oil Drum | Does the U.S. Really Have More Oil than Saudi Arabia?.

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