Oil shale

From Open Energy Information

Oil Shale -Oil Shale: any sedimentary rock that is made of solid bituminous materials which are released as liquids when the rock is heated -Formed in lake or marine environments

    -Commonly carbonate rich; some are not classical mudstones
    -Kerogen-rich, primarily algal and bacterial
    -Immature precursor to oil & gas

-Produces petroleum like oil upon heating

    -Must be mined and then heated at a very high temperature to receive a liquid to then be collected and separated
    -Can be mined and processed to generate oil that can be seen as similar to the oil in wells

-Usually >10 gal/ton

Oil Shale Resources -Green River Formation

    -Covers portions of CO, UT, and WY
    -More than 70% of the total acreage in under federally owned lands 

-Piceance Basin: 1,335 square miles -In place resource: 1.52 trillion barrels -Uinta Basin: 3,834 square miles -In-place resource: 1.32 trillion barrels -Greater Green River Basin: 5,500 square miles -In-place resource: 1.44 trillion barrels -The Piceance Basin has the smallest area and largest resource

Oil Shale Industry -Many countries do not have mass amounts of oil shale resources -Total

    –AMSO (joint with Genie Oil)
    –Red Leaf Resources (and TomCo)
    –Independent Energy Partners (test at Colorado School of Mines)

-ExxonMobil -Enefit American Oil -ShaleTech International (Deployed in Australia) -Estonia ~12,000 barrels per day -Brazil ~4,000 barrels per day -China ~15,000 barrels per day

Four Issues for Oil Shale Progress -Four main issues condition future progress of shale oil production -Importance of each is different in every country where development is under way or being considered -Issues not necessarily independent of one another -Interplay of natural influences with human influences affect how companies and countries progress

Air Emissions -Colorado SO2 emission limit attainable by most processes

    –Equal amount allowable for upgrading
    -95-99% cleanup of pyrolysis gas if burned for process heat
    -Substantial removal of trace (non-H2S) sulfur species

-Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program (PSD) of 1977 Clean Air Act is projected to limit shale oil production to ~400,000 bbls/day

    -Visibility reduction in Flat Tops Wilderness Area thought to drive the limit

-In public’s best interest to ensure sulfur emission limits low enough that oil shale industry can exist without exceeding PSD standards -In public’s best interest to ensure that PSD standards are scientifically sound

    -Government must have resources necessary to deal sensibly with this issue in a time frame that allows industry to adjust

Carbon Management -Industry estimate: 10-20% greater lifecycle emissions than conventional crude oil

    -EOR, flaring of stranded gas make some crude oil worse than shale oil
    -85-90% from power plant

-CO2 emissions regulation approach should be universal

    -Don’t single out oil shale for special treatment one way or the other
    -Don’t let Government micromanage process design and development
    -Let industry respond in the most economic manner
    -Mitigation approaches may develop at the same pace as oil shale

Oil Shale Conclusions -Oil shale resources are widely distributed -Both excitement and anxiety in the oil shale industry -Countries & companies that sustained effort benefit by their leadership -Both surface and subsurface processes are being employed -New advances offer promise for the future -Environmental challenges are significant -Globally significant production still decades away

    –Even at 15% annual growth 1 MMBOPD takes ~25 years
    –Barring significant technological advances 
    -Technology may not be rate limiting step

-Same is true for most alternative fuels -Stable growth can provide time to enable carbon management

~~ All information came from the Colorado School of Mines Introduction to Energy Class, http://ostseis.anl.gov/guide/oilshale/ ~~