Skip to comments.In the American west: An ocean of oil
Posted on 05/13/2012 7:36:35 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
In case you missed it and you very well might have, since the media was too busy talking about gay marriage to be bothered a rather remarkable thing happened in Washington this week. An auditor from the GAO testified before the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on the subject of energy. But instead of hearing about how horrible things are, she calmly delivered something of a bombshell.
The Green River Formationan assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyomingcontains the worlds largest deposits of oil shale,Anu K. Mittal, the GAOs director of natural resources and environment said in written testimony submitted to the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.
USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions, Mittal testified.
The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered, Mittal told the subcommittee. At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire worlds proven oil reserves.
Read those last two sentences again and think about it for a moment. The largest remaining reserves of oil on the planet are not in Saudi Arabia or buried under the frozen steppes of the former Soviet Union. Theyre here in the United States. Combined with the massive resources in western Canada, that means that North America is the King of Oil for the future. But what if anything will we do about it?
The vast majority of this supply is shale oil, a form which was essentially useless to us only a few decades ago, but now we know how to get it. And if you want to avoid ripping up the entire landscape, that means horizontal drilling and fracking. Unfortunately for us, this is one of those rare areas where the government actually can make a difference, for better or worse. The Obama administration continues to claim that they are pursuing an all of the above energy policy, but at the same time they are jumping in with new regulations regarding fracking.
If we move forward on this aggressively, the industry can safely access these resources which would significantly strengthen our hand on the international stage. But with the wrong approach, Washington could hog tie energy developers with excessive, expensive regulations or shut the entire process down by failing to issue permits to develop resources on these federal lands.
The public disclosure of these reserves is good news, but its only the beginning. And while I feel some trepidation in saying it, Im afraid the ball is in Barack Obamas court.
Short half-lives won't last long enough to trace the flow. We're talking feet per year (or maybe inches per year.
"Or some harmless chemical substance not found in nature. Then get samples of the water table water to check for the tracers presence."
Fluorocarbons. Soluble in the oil. Available in both liquid and gaseous types. Detectable at incredibly low concentrations with electron capture detectors. And harmless to the environment.
Welcome to the Mahogany Research Project
For decades, energy companies have attempted to unlock the large, domestic oil shale resources of northwestern Colorados Piceance (pronounced Pee-ance) Basin. For more than a quarter of a century, Shell has conducted laboratory and field research on its promising, In situ (in-ground) Conversion Process to recover oil and gas.
Not technological reasons, 100% due to economics. At that time, cheaper oil was available to meet demand, once the OPEC embargo had ended.
Yes, it is amazing.
However, one must consider the energy required to produce enough heat to ‘boil the oil out of rock’.
Shell carried out a small field test known as the Mahogany Demonstration Project South on its private property in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, using an in-ground heating process to recover oil and gas from the shale formation.
Field results from past research, as evident in the MDP Research Chart, have matched our predictions, giving our engineers confidence in the In situ Conversion Process.
On only a 30 x 40 foot testing area, Shell successfully recovered 1,700 barrels of high quality light oil plus associated gas from shallower, less-concentrated oil shale layers. Our research to date has demonstrated that our In situ Conversion Process (ICP) works technically on a small scale - what remains is to prove it can work commercially.
Shell will continue to set a high industry standard for public participation, environmental protection and community enhancement in an effort to ensure oil shale is done the right way.
We aim to advance the technology systematically to the point at which an application could be made to convert the 160-acre RD&D tracts to commercial leases. A commercial decision would be middle of the next decade and possibly later depending on the sequence and outcome of research activities.”
Doesn’t look like we will be producing oil there very soon.
The formation is discontinuous, lacustrine in origin, and outcrops extensively in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. "Mining" that is commonly proposed is open pit mining. Fish fossils from the Green RIver Formation are well known as well.
Granted, with the formation outcropping (at the surface), the base of a full section could be 1000 feet down, but thermal maturity in basins with ordinary heat flow is attained at roughly 9,000 ft. (or more) of burial. without magmatic involvement.
(In much of the oil industry "very deep" is in excess of 15,000 ft.)
The Green River oil is trapped in the non-interconnected pore space in the shale, and is not subjected to sufficient lithostatic pressure from overlying formations (which are relatively thin or absent for most of the areal extent of the formation) to migrate out of the shale.
That's good news and bad news.
The good part is that it is a near-surface resource if and when economical extraction methods are devised. The bad news is that even the horizontal drilling and fracking methods used in the Bakken Formation or the Marcellus Shale (for example) won't get the job done.
The Parachute, CO plant relied on cooking the oil out of mined shale. Others (Shell, iirc) have tried cooking the oil in situ and forcing it into collector wells from a central heated wellbore. Neither method has proven to be economical, both have their problems, and the EPA would be all over either process like white on rice, especially on Federal Land.
The oil is there, but we need a better way to extract it.
Since the Feds will not give commercial permits, only R&D sized permits, no we won't.
Well, takes energy just to run a drill to get down to it in the first place. Nuthin us free!
That would depend upon the price of the energy used as input and the energy output value.
What is the price difference per million BTU of Natural Gas versus light, sweet oil today?
On page 4-22 below you will find:
ICP requires energy input for heating, freeze wall construction, processing, and maintenance but still generates three to four times as much net energy as it consumes. This energy ratio is very comparable to steam injection in heavy oil projects.
But one must consider EROI when calculating whether or not it is profitable to drill/mine for energy.
EROI = Energy returned on energy invested.
If you are expending the close tot the same amount of energy to extract/process/ship the oil than the amount of energy extracted, that oil becomes unprofitable to extract ... or super expensive to buy.
Shell: Oil shale blocked
August 24, 2011
- - - - - - -
BLM plan takes heat from all directions in oil shale debate
Reprint from: The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
April 28, 2012
...The BLM issued its draft alternatives in February, laying out several options for the modification of a 2008 Bush administration plan to open to development nearly 2.5 million acres of public land containing oil shale and tar sands deposits in the three states.
Among the six alternatives, the agency favors the one that would allow research, development and demonstration activities on 553,010 acres, which it says would allow companies to further develop the technology needed to economically and responsibly exploit the resources.
That reduction frustrated Mesa County commissioners who argued production of oil from oil shale is technically and economically possible, and the plan would essentially dismantle a reasonable and rational oil shale and tar sands program.
Shell reported from their pilot plant project 3~4 times more energy returned from what was consumed.
And when you consider low cost natural gas consumed and a near light, sweet liquid petroleum returned, the economics are even better.
Not as good as energy/cost spent in the Bakken or Eagle Ford today, but profitable if permitted.
However, there is no process so simple, no balance sheet so profitable, that the inspired minions in Government cannot figure out a way to make it too difficult or too expensive to continue.
Need to stop supporting the Middle East terrorists by buying their oil. However, as long as one of them is in the WH, we’re screwed in that category.
Has the federal reserve, or the assclowns in power, mortgaged our natural resources as collateral for their massive borrowing from China?
I never suggested we should use more energy getting iy out than we profit by it.
But it might be a viable alternative. Especially since using microwaves “cooks out” the lighter, more volatile compounds and leaves the heavier, more sulfur-laden residues behind.
Thinking-outside-the-box kinda stuff.
I forgot to clarify, ICP = In-situ Conversion Process
Bump for later. Will make an excellent FB post to make some liberal’s heads spin.
A short video on fracking: http://www.northernoil.com/drilling
Very well done by Northern Oil and Gas