Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Future of the Oil Industry

The Associated Press
December 15, 2006

R&D shale oil extraction leases granted

The Interior Department granted leases Friday for shale oil extraction experiments, a step allowing companies to determine how to tap into an estimated 100-year supply of oil locked in rock formations under Colorado, Utah, and southwest Wyoming.
The leases, the first granted in 30 years, were issued two decades after companies abandoned large-scale commercial efforts in western Colorado because coaxing oil out of rock was laborious and expensive.

The Interior Department issued 10-year leases for Shell Frontier Oil & Gas Co., Chevron USA and EGL Resources Inc. for 160-acre parcels for research and development projects in northwest Colorado.

"These oil shale (research, development, and demonstration) leases will help us determine how industry might develop this tremendous resource effectively and economically," said C. Stephen Allred, assistant secretary of the interior for land and minerals management.
The companies must submit detailed development plans, monitor groundwater, and obtain all required permits to protect air and water quality, the department said last month in approving the projects, which could begin as early as the summer.

Since 1996, Shell has tested procedures on private land in western Colorado that involve baking shale rock in the ground with electric heating rods, then pumping the melted oil to the surface. Circulating refrigerants through underground pipes to freeze adjacent areas would keep groundwater away from the melted oil.
The Bureau of Land Management declared the projects would have no significant environmental impact.

Shell says that they can pull oil out of shale for $ 30/bbl. Freezing the ground to create cells with "ice-walls" is a nice touch of genius.

The trillion-plus barrels of near-oil under the Rockies in America and Canada, plus the Canadian tar sands, plus the hundred billion barrels of oil in Alaska and under the Gulf of Mexico, are why North America will come to be the center of the global oil industry during the 21st century, and sooner rather than later.


Blogger Duck said...

This is also a sign that no-one is expecting sub $40 oil anytime soon. They will make the investments when they can be sure that there is a floor to the market.

December 17, 2006 7:38 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

I won't claim that we won't see sub-$ 40 oil, for there are many scenarios under which we might, but looking out a couple of decades it's almost certain that we won't be meeting global demand using just cheaply-produced oil, such as that of the Middle East and America's Permian Basin. Those reserves are on their final legs.

December 17, 2006 2:25 PM  

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