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A Gold Nugget as Big as the White House
Townhall.com ^ | May 16, 2012 | Terry Jeffrey

Posted on 05/16/2012 5:01:23 AM PDT by Kaslin

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote a story about a family that discovered a diamond as big as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel sitting beneath a mountain in a remote corner of Montana.

The big rock presented a great dilemma. Selling off tiny pieces could yield a massive fortune. But if the world uncovered its existence, diamond prices would plummet.

To maintain their secret -- and an artificial scarcity in diamonds -- the family became tyrants, imposing absolute control over five square miles of Montana. Involuntary servitude, extrajudicial incarceration and old-fashioned homicide were just some of the tools they used the keep their jewel -- and all knowledge of it -- within the family.

I was reminded of Fitzgerald's story recently when I read the written testimony that the Government Accountability Office presented to an obscure congressional panel called the Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

The testimony was a real page-turner, enticingly titled, "Unconventional Oil and Gas Production: Opportunities and Challenges in Shale Oil Development."

Like many Americans, I had heard something about shale oil in the Rocky Mountains. But it was not a topic I had even thought of looking into until I noticed the gas stations between my home and office were selling unleaded for about $4 per gallon.

The GAO testimony discussed the Green River Formation -- a geological feature where Colorado, Utah and Wyoming come together.

The U.S. Geological Survey, the testimony said, "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.

"The Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered," said GAO.

"At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable," said GAO. "This is an amount about equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves."

Wait! What? Say that again! "About equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves!"

Since the GAO testimony cited the Rand Corp., I poked around to see what Rand had said about the Green River Formation.

On June 3, 2011, Rand's James T. Bartis appeared in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

"At crude oil prices of $100 per barrel, the value of the oil that might be recovered from federally owned land is over $60 trillion," Bartis said in written testimony. "The public wealth embedded in our oil shale lands is staggering."

The current national debt -- staggering in itself -- is about $15.6 trillion, or a little more than one fourth of the $60 trillion that Bartis said might be derived from federally owned shale-oil deposits.

But how do these oil lands compare in size to a Ritz-Carlton Hotel? Bartis mentioned what he called "the geographic concentration of this vast resource."

"Most of the high value resources lie within in a very small area (roughly 30 by 35 miles) within Colorado's Piceance Basin and within a small portion of the nearby Uinta Basin within Utah," he said.

A map that GAO published with its testimony shows that the Piceance and the Uinta basins that Bartis mentions lie in an area of few roads that sits west of Meeker, Colo., north of Grand Junction, Colo., south of Vernal, Utah, and east of Price, Utah.

To be sure, as both Bartis and the GAO point out, developing the shale oil these lands hold will pose technical, environmental and social challenges.

In the meanwhile, you can expect many liberals in the federal government to treat the oil deposits in the Green River Formation the way F. Scott Fitzgerald's villainous family in "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" treated their family jewel. They will want to keep it as secret as possible and develop it as little as they can.

They, too, will seek to maintain an artificial scarcity. And the longer they do, the sooner you will be riding mass transit.

In any event, as the late economist Julian Simon might have pointed out, history is again proving the environmentalist ideologues wrong. The physical resources God gave us are not limited in any practical sense. And you do not need to trek to the Western deserts to see that. You can simply look to the sky tonight and see sun after sun burning with an energy that a free and energetic people might someday tap.

And, for now at least, even the man in the White House says he is for solar power.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: energy; oil; oilshale

1 posted on 05/16/2012 5:01:25 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Psychotic Progressives.

IMHO


2 posted on 05/16/2012 5:07:42 AM PDT by ripley
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To: Kaslin
Massive potential reserves. Unfettered access to locate, retrieve, process and market the product?

Government would lose control. They wouldn't be able to try to make the sheep believe high prices (including their massive government taxes) are the result of scarcity and world conditions beyond the control of the government.

Of course, government and the liberals that control it are scared shitless of such a situation. They will continue to hide, obfuscate and tax the products Americans (at least those working and paying taxes) need to excel.

3 posted on 05/16/2012 5:13:19 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Kaslin
The United States is an energy colossus. If you close down the EPA and the Interior Department and lease out the land for developement, the “energy crisis” will be over in a few months. Yes, months. Once the market realizes that the US is serious about developing their own resources, prices will fall quickly.
4 posted on 05/16/2012 5:21:05 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (Obamanomics-We don't need your stinking tar sands oil, we'll just grow algae.)
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To: Kaslin
--oil companies, con men, assorted promoters and considerable numbers of charlatans have been trying to make something of the Colorado-Wyoming-Utah "oil shale' for nearly a century.

--the primary problem with the stuff is that all of that "oil" is scattered widely through trillions of tons of rock--

--there are no magic ways of getting it out--and it is not similar to the Bakken or the Texas shale deposits---

5 posted on 05/16/2012 5:25:01 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the media or government says about firearms or explosives--)
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To: Kaslin
If anyone is interested in Old-Time Radio, there was an episode of Escape based on the story. I heard it years ago, but I didn't remember who had written the original short story.

Here's the link:

 1947-07-21   The Diamond As Big As the Ritz (30 min) 

6 posted on 05/16/2012 5:46:18 AM PDT by Tanniker Smith (I didn't know she was a liberal when I married her.)
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To: rellimpank
there are no magic ways of getting it out

The U.S. Geological Survey, the testimony said, "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.
"The Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,"

Looks like you have a difference of opinion with the Rand Corporation and the USGS.

7 posted on 05/16/2012 5:50:29 AM PDT by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: Kaslin

30X35 miles?

Don’t get too excited.

They will “find” some native American bones there and the whole place will get locked down as a sacred site.

Happens all the time.


8 posted on 05/16/2012 5:52:08 AM PDT by djf ("There are more old drunkards than old doctors." - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: GOP_Party_Animal
--thirty-some years ago (during the last "oil shale"boom), I spent considerable time contributing mining knowledge to shale feasability studies.

--the only money made in oil shale was when Arco sold Parachute to Exxon, who took a multi-million dollar bath on it within a few years---

-- depending on available technology and economic conditions.--covers a lot of ground---judging by what we were looking at for recovery costs thirty years ago, my off-hand opinion would be that $200/bbl might be one of the "economic conditions"--

9 posted on 05/16/2012 6:02:24 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the media or government says about firearms or explosives--)
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To: Kaslin
But, but . . . Paul Tonko says shale oil is not ready for prime time, and he should know, because he was an engineer before he became a solon . . .

Check out this crap.

Honest question: how is it possible to have a background in engineering and be a bleeding heart liberal?

10 posted on 05/16/2012 6:05:22 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: Tanniker Smith

Based on what was known at the time, Arthur C Clarke, with a solid science background, once suggested that at the center of Jupiter there exits a very high quality diamond about the size of earths moon. Carbon is the heaviest common element detectable in Jupiter’s atmosphere and most of it would drift to the bottom of that massive gravity well where it would be subject to immense pressure forming it into a diamond.

Nice supposition.


11 posted on 05/16/2012 6:06:39 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (I like Obamacare because Granny signed the will and I need the cash)
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To: Hemingway's Ghost

—even a few “bleeding heart liberals” can be correct every now and then—


12 posted on 05/16/2012 6:19:07 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the media or government says about firearms or explosives--)
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To: rellimpank
—even a few “bleeding heart liberals” can be correct every now and then—

Perhaps. I'm simply amazed, however, by the tone he strikes in that press release. His bias, of course, is laid bare once you check out his background a bit.

Why not let our scientists, engineers, and businessmen explore all the means by which we could get energy better and cheaper? Why does it have to be one or the other?

13 posted on 05/16/2012 6:27:25 AM PDT by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: djf
They will “find” some native American bones there and the whole place will get locked down as a sacred site.

Or else the endangered comb-over eagle (just like a bald eagle but with a couple brown feathers swept from one side of its head to the other) will be found and everything nearby will be declared a wilderness area.

But maybe everything will be fine if pipelines can be prohibited and Warren Buffet has to carry all the oil on his railroad.

14 posted on 05/16/2012 6:40:05 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (You only have three billion heartbeats in a lifetime.How many does the government claim as its own?)
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To: rellimpank

In 2005, Royal Dutch Shell announced that its in-situ process could become competitive for oil prices over $30 per barrel ($190/m3).[56] A 2004 report by the United States Department of Energy stated that both the Shell technology and technology used in the Stuart Oil Shale Project could be competitive at prices above $25 per barrel, and that the Viru Keemia Grupp expected full-scale production to be economical at prices above $18 per barrel ($130/m3).[46][57]
............
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_shale


15 posted on 05/16/2012 6:42:41 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: muir_redwoods

Once you have reliable, affordable access to space (out to about Jupiter) mineral resources are HUGELY abundant. Asteroids of solid iron, gold, silver etc are likely. Dido comets of mostly H20.


16 posted on 05/16/2012 6:42:47 AM PDT by jpsb
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To: jpsb

There nothing out there except ROCKS.......and some subsistence shrubs and cacti.

Quick, someone find an endangered insect.....


17 posted on 05/16/2012 6:48:43 AM PDT by 4Speed
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To: Kaslin

Obama can simply fast-track the region to be declared a national park the way Clintoon did for the Escalante coal area in Utah.


18 posted on 05/16/2012 6:48:54 AM PDT by citizen (Obama blames:arab spring,banks,big oil,bush,ceos,christians,coal,FNC,Jpn tsumani,T Party,wall st,you)
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To: Kaslin

Buffaloguy looks over the top of his reading glasses and sez:

The Green River field is the tip of the iceberg. You do the math.


19 posted on 05/16/2012 6:54:59 AM PDT by buffaloguy (uab.)
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To: ckilmer

-—at those production costs, it must be pouring out of the ground—maybe you could enlighten me as to where?


20 posted on 05/16/2012 7:03:59 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the media or government says about firearms or explosives--)
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To: Kaslin
the value of the oil that might be recovered from federally owned land is over $60 trillion

Time is of the essence. Within 100 years we will likely be growing all our oil on the open oceans. Any of the $60 trillion in wealth still in the ground becomes completely worthless. It is a fast depreciating asset of humongous proportions. Drill for oil like it's going out of style, because it is.

21 posted on 05/16/2012 7:09:23 AM PDT by Reeses
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To: rellimpank

Its not pouring out of the ground because they also need a lot of water,electricity and federal approvals to get it out of the ground.


22 posted on 05/16/2012 7:37:22 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: ckilmer

-—yep—and water and electricity cost money, believe it or not——


23 posted on 05/16/2012 7:40:40 AM PDT by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the media or government says about firearms or explosives--)
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To: rellimpank

The wikipedia piece mentions the Viru Keemia Grupp

A quick wikipedia search shows that they are an estonian company with an oil shale plant in the Ukraine. There’s plenty of water and electricity there — unlike the green river basin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viru_Keemia_Grupp


24 posted on 05/16/2012 7:45:11 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: rellimpank
-—yep—and water and electricity cost money, believe it or not——

It's the "Federal approvals" that cost the real money.

25 posted on 05/16/2012 9:21:42 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (The RNC would prefer Obama to a conservative nominee.)
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To: rellimpank

But hasn’t there been a renaissance in oil production with better fracking techniques and horizontal drilling? Sure, $100/bbl oil prices have helped the Bakken drillers here in ND, but I would think Colorado shale could benefit similarly from recent technology advancements.


26 posted on 05/16/2012 9:35:03 AM PDT by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: thackney

Ping.


27 posted on 05/16/2012 1:12:18 PM PDT by Army Air Corps (Four Fried Chickens and a Coke)
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To: rellimpank
there are no magic ways of getting it out

We don't need magic. In-Sito retorting has proven effective at Shell's Mahogany Research Facility after the recent pilot operations.

Welcome to the Mahogany Research Project
http://www.shell.us/home/content/usa/aboutshell/projects_locations/mahogany/

Plan of Operations
Shell Frontier Oil and Gas Inc.
Oil Shale Test Project
http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/co/field_offices/white_river_field/oil_shale.Par.79837.File.dat/OSTPlanofOperations.pdf
February 15, 2006

They built the facility, ran the initial pilot program and proved the initial results.


28 posted on 05/16/2012 1:31:55 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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