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Headlines Finally, a ray of hope in this "Oil Crisis"

jamesp

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http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/news_columnists/article/0,1299,DRMN_86_4051709,00.html

Seebach: Shell's ingenious approach to oil shale is pretty slickSeptember 3, 2005
QUOTE:
When oil prices last touched record highs - actually, after adjusting for inflation we're not there yet, but given the effects of Hurricane Katrina, we probably will be soon - politicians' response was more hype than hope. Oil shale in Colorado! Tar sands in Alberta! OPEC be damned! Remember the Carter-era Synfuels Corp. debacle? It was a response to the '70s energy shortages, closed down in 1985 after accomplishing essentially nothing at great expense, which is pretty much a description of what usually happens when the government tries to take over something that the private sector can do better. Private actors are, after all, spending their own money.

Since 1981, Shell researchers at the company's division of "unconventional resources" have been spending their own money trying to figure out how to get usable energy out of oil shale. Judging by the presentation the Rocky Mountain News heard this week, they think they've got it.

Shell's method, which it calls "in situ conversion," is simplicity itself in concept but exquisitely ingenious in execution. Terry O'Connor, a vice president for external and regulatory affairs at Shell Exploration and Production, explained how it's done (and they have done it, in several test projects):

Drill shafts into the oil-bearing rock. Drop heaters down the shaft. Cook the rock until the hydrocarbons boil off, the lightest and most desirable first. Collect them.

Please note, you don't have to go looking for oil fields when you're brewing your own.

On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.

While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world.

Wow.

They don't need subsidies; the process should be commercially feasible with world oil prices at $30 a barrel. The energy balance is favorable; under a conservative life-cycle analysis, it should yield 3.5 units of energy for every 1 unit used in production. The process recovers about 10 times as much oil as mining the rock and crushing and cooking it at the surface, and it's a more desirable grade. Reclamation is easier because the only thing that comes to the surface is the oil you want.

And we've hardly gotten to the really ingenious part yet. While the rock is cooking, at about 650 or 750 degrees Fahrenheit, how do you keep the hydrocarbons from contaminating ground water? Why, you build an ice wall around the whole thing. As O'Connor said, it's counterintuitive.

But ice is impermeable to water. So around the perimeter of the productive site, you drill lots more shafts, only 8 to 12 feet apart, put in piping, and pump refrigerants through it. The water in the ground around the shafts freezes, and eventually forms a 20- to 30-foot ice barrier around the site.

Next you take the water out of the ground inside the ice wall, turn up the heat, and then sit back and harvest the oil until it stops coming in useful quantities. When production drops, it falls off rather quickly.

That's an advantage over ordinary wells, which very gradually get less productive as they age.

Then you pump the water back in. (Well, not necessarily the same water, which has moved on to other uses.) It's hot down there so the water flashes into steam, picking up loose chemicals in the process. Collect the steam, strip the gunk out of it, repeat until the water comes out clean. Then you can turn off the heaters and the chillers and move on to the next plot (even saving one or two of the sides of the ice wall, if you want to be thrifty about it).

Most of the best territory for this astonishing process is on land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management. Shell has applied for a research and development lease on 160 acres of BLM land, which could be approved by February. That project would be on a large enough scale so design of a commercial facility could begin.

The 2005 energy bill altered some provisions of the 1920 Minerals Leasing Act that were a deterrent to large-scale development, and also laid out a 30-month timetable for establishing federal regulations governing commercial leasing.

Shell has been deliberately low-key about their R&D, wanting to avoid the hype, and the disappointment, that surrounded the last oil-shale boom. But O'Connor said the results have been sufficiently encouraging they are gradually getting more open. Starting next week, they will be holding public hearings in northwest Colorado.

I'll say it again. Wow.
 

void

Banned - What an Asshat!
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people once said that it wasn't profitable to get the oil under american soil, now it's $70+ a barrel that arguement has been revised..
 

jamesp

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void said:
people once said that it wasn't profitable to get the oil under american soil, now it's $70+ a barrel that arguement has been revised..
They already tried the shale flats in Colorado but didn't have the tevhnology then. Now we do.
 
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problem though, people would start driving ALOT more because they wouldn't worry about gas prices, then theres more pollution. i still think hydrogen is the way to go, if they can find a good source of it
 

jamesp

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dull_bullet said:
problem though, people would start driving ALOT more because they wouldn't worry about gas prices, then theres more pollution. i still think hydrogen is the way to go, if they can find a good source of it

Ummm...water? That is not a problem, its converting the water to pure hydrogen then making it run a car that is the inefficient part.
 

void

Banned - What an Asshat!
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:thumbsup: yeah, they found a lot of oil all over but always said it was too expensive to extract (peak-oil-syndrome), but now with the tech and the price it's viable.. it's a good scenario except it perpetuates the dependence, ultimately we need a viable alterantive and it may as well be sooner than later..
still very good news though, hope it hits the pump before too long, i saw 4 adults cycling today.. nobody usually cycles in nashville.. people just can't afford to drive this weekend..
 

jamesp

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I thinkt that this whole ordeal will get creative minds working, and we'll have a viable alternative to oil within 10 years.
 

void

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PUBLISHING billionaire Steve Forbes has predicted that soaring oil prices will lead to a crash that could make the hi-tech bust of 2000 "look like a picnic".

Mr Forbes, publisher of Forbes magazine, said the price of oil, which peaked at more than $US70 a barrel on Monday as Hurricane Katrina headed for the US Gulf Coast, was unsustainable.



He said factors such as inflation and increased demand for oil from China and India accounted for only a small part of the price hike from $US25-30 a barrel three years ago.

"The rest of it is sheer bubble speculation," he said.

Mr Forbes, who was speaking at the opening of the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Sydney yesterday, said the higher the oil price rose, the harder it would eventually crash, creating more pain for hedge fund managers and their clients.



"I don't think it's going to go to $US100 but if it does the crash is going to be even more spectacular," he said.

"It will make the hi-tech bubble look like a picnic -- this thing is not going to last." He predicted that oil would fall to $US30-35 a barrel within a year.

http://heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,16441087^664,00.html
 

Slacker

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Gas is way to exspensive these days.... More people ar buyng hybrids and ditching Trucks. People would give me wierd faces in my Geo Metro when i drove it around but, now they wish they had it.
 

ThomConspicuous

Inconspicuously Informal
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Plenty of reasons not to use our own oil.

Did not know this until recently told to me by my old man (chemical engineer), but the oil reserves that were recently released are stagnant, yeah it can actually happen, and I'm going to be a little wary about what I put in my vehicle.
The oil in Alaska doesn't come to the USA, we ship it to Asia because it is of such low quality.
Aside from bizarre greed between the USA and Saudis, the other reason is that is a higher grade oil and comes shipped to us already refined.

The oil from the Gulf is good oil too, which is why we have so many refineries along the coast, now out of commission.

Given all this information it is really shocking how little thought our Gov't has put into how much their very, very slow response to NOLA will impact us in the future. If the retards had acted better and followed their evacuation plans that have been laid out for at least 4 years, they would have been staged to evac civilians immediately instead of waiting for Fox News to tell them they suck.
This would have allowed for these past few days to be more productive in repairing one our most important ports for bringing in America's most precious commodity.

Now the entire nation is under risk of financial crisis that might make the post-911 economy look good.

Bio-diesel is a viable alternative, if only I had diesel vehicle...
 

Darklight

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A spokes person for the oil barons already talked while the disaster was in like its 3rd day... if and when prices go down they will only go down to still be the highest prices EVER...

and think about it.. in the history of gas prices... whenever we have seen a significant rise in prices, they have almost never gone down to the same or below the original price. 95% of the time after a large increase gas prices go down about 50% of the original hike.. so for instance as the price way back when was 80 cents and it hiked to $1.20 because of "winter consumption" when spring rolls around it drops to $1.00 even. Everyone accepts it because they say "wow finally some relief at the pump" and the barons get away with increasing the price 20 cents.

now we jacked prices from 2.55 to 3.55, even 4 dollars in some areas... so lets say it levels at 4 bucks... so if trends hold even if they find 12 new wells, prices will only likely drop to 3.27.. and it'll happen after so long we'll just take it, because we'll say "wow finally some relief at the pump.."