Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oil Shale

"By some estimates, U.S. oil-shale reserves could yield 800 billion barrels of oil, triple the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. ... Oil shale's fortunes have risen and fallen before. Interest spiked in the 1920s, the 1950s and the 1970s as high oil prices made oil shale's challenges seem worth trying to overcome. When prices fell, the investments dried up. ... Industry leaders argue that the price collapses that undermined previous efforts won't be repeated this time because of rising demand for oil from India and China and the increasing difficulty of finding new supplies. ... 'We can technically put a man on Jupiter,' says Houston investment banker Matthew Simmons, a well-known proponent of the theory that global oil production may have already peaked. 'Being technically practical and technically possible are two very different things.' ... But Shell's process is complicated. The company plans to insert electric heaters hundreds of feet into the ground to heat the oil shale to between 650 degrees and 700 degrees for more more than two years. ... 'We understand there are skeptics,' says Shell Vice President Terry O'Connnor. The company says it won't decide whether its project is commerically feasible until the middle of the next decade. ... ", Ben Casselman at the WSJ, 18 July 2008.

Oil shale is like uranium, subject to a high oil price to make its economically feasible. I wish Shell good luck with its "in situ" process.

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