Re: Shell's Ingenious Approach To Oil Shale Is Pretty Slick

From: janice matchett <janmatch@earthlink.net>
Date: Sun Sep 04 2005 - 01:16:21 EDT

At 12:57 AM 9/4/2005, Jim Armstrong wrote:
>And the (enormous amount of) energy for the heat and freezing comes from
>where? and does what to the cost of the extracted petroleum? If I recall,
>steam has been used for this purpose with marginal results. More from the
>guys who know this better than I........ JimA

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You might find this exchange of interest:

The Energy Returned on Energy Invested ("ERoEI") of shale oil is reported
to be quite low, say 3:2 to 2:1, similar to that of tar sands. That means
that a producer would get 3 barrels of oil out and processed by using 2.
When the price of energy goes up, so does the price of producing and
refining the shale oil. There is a saying: "Shale oil. Fuel of the future
and always will be."

"Shale oil" isn't even real oil. It's a substance called kerogen, which is
an oil precursor. It requires considerable, energy-intensive processing to
turn it into usable products, like gasoline, diesel and heating oil. It
also has required considerable amounts of water to process, which is in
very short supply in the intermountain west, unlike northern Alberta.

I'll be thrilled if shale oil can be made to work, but I'm not betting the
farm on it.

<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=34#34>34 posted
on 09/03/2005 5:39:41 PM EDT by
<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603//~oceanagirl/>oceanagirl

The Energy Returned on Energy Invested ("ERoEI") of shale oil is reported
to be quite low, say 3:2 to 2:1,

The article states: 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.

"Shale oil" isn't even real oil. It's a substance called kerogen, which is
an oil precursor. It requires considerable, energy-intensive processing to
turn it into usable products, like gasoline, diesel and heating oil. It
also has required considerable amounts of water to process, which is in
very short supply in the intermountain west, unlike northern Alberta.

The article states: "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds
light crude

<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=52#52>52 posted
on 09/03/2005 6:12:58 PM EDT by
<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603//~jeffchandler/>Jeff Chandler

All energy processing consumes vast amounts of energy. Doesn't matter in
the least, as long as the balance is positive.

<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=71#71>71 posted
on 09/03/2005 7:44:47 PM EDT by
<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603//~jasonc/>JasonC

The solution of course is nuclear power to extract the oil, but there will
still be a large "scar" where the oil shale has been mined. (Open pit I
suspect). The answer is that it never has been free, energy will always
take some toll on the environment.

But the time for this investment may not be here yet. We could dig in and
find that more light sweet crude is available in the Middle East, (because
we are being sandbagged) and the price could fall to below $30 and leave
investors beholding to the government for the money to run the oil shale
plant.

Of course we could and should start on the nuclear power now.

<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=41#41>41 posted
on 09/03/2005 5:46:21 PM EDT by
<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603//~kcforfreedom/>KC_for_Freedom

The article claims a 3.5/1 ERoEI. Even 3/1 would be perfectly acceptable on
a real-world basis. Clearly worth a good, hard look, I'd say.

What I'd like to see additionally along these lines is the establishment of
a good number of coal-oil facilities. Easy to build, easy to operate and
comparatively inexpensive, technology well-known, and produce a nice clean
product that's almost #2. Absolutely feasible (if built on/near existing
pipe) w/crude at or above $26-27. Less than that, really, if one amortises
the start-up cost over, say, 25 years.

Further, coal oil (if we would push it) would have the huge advantage of
almost immediately reducing the amount of NG being burnt just to heat. NG
should be feedstock, not fuel; it's much more valuable in that role.

<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=44#44>44 posted
on 09/03/2005 5:53:53 PM EDT by
<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603//~saj/>SAJ

[end excerpted responses ]

Janice
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>janice matchett wrote:
>>Comments follow (refresh your browser if you click link):
>>
>><http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts>Shell's Ingenious
>>Approach To Oil Shale Is Pretty Slick
>><http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603//%5Ehttp://ww2.scripps.com/cgi-bin/archives/denver.pl?DBLIST=rm05&DOCNUM=20000>Rocky
>>Mountain News ^ | Saturday, September 3, 2005 | Linda Seebach
>>Posted on 09/03/2005 4:58:07 PM EDT by Mount Athos
>>http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts
>>
>>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.
>>
>> *
>>
>>....how do they prevent an enormous loss of liquid via
>>seepage? <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=46#46>46
>>
>> From my understanding, isn't that what the ice walls are designed to
>> accomplish? I understand that that would create a walled structure
>> leaving the bottom open. I assume though that the shale and rock would
>> maybe act as a liner on the bottom? I'm sure the engineers thinking of
>> this already figured that
>> out. <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=51#51>51
>>
>>Perhaps that's it. If SOME layer of shale will or can be forced to act as
>>the ''bottom'' of the ''cauldron'', then the deal is sealed.
>>
>>I think you're probably spot on or very close. I should have thought it
>>through a bit more,
>>evidently. <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=76#76>76
>>
>>Study reveals huge U.S. oil-shale field
>><http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002463368_oilstudy01.html>Seattle
>>Times By Jennifer Talhelm, AP
>>Thursday, September 1, 2005 - 12:00 AM
>>
>>WASHINGTON The United States has an oil reserve at least three times
>>that of Saudi Arabia locked in oil-shale deposits beneath federal land in
>>Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, according to a study released yesterday.
>>
>>But the researchers at the RAND think tank caution the federal government
>>to go carefully, balancing the environmental and economic impacts with
>>development pressure to prevent an oil-shale bust later.
>>
>>"We've got more oil in this very compact area than the entire Middle
>>East," said James Bartis, RAND senior policy researcher and the report's
>>lead author. ...
>>
>>For years, the industry and the government considered oil shale a rock
>>that produces petroleum when heated too expensive to be a feasible
>>source of oil. However, oil prices, which spiked above $70 a barrel this
>>week, combined with advances in technology could soon make it possible to
>>tap the estimated 500 billion to 1.1 trillion recoverable barrels, the
>>report found.
>>
>>The study, sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, comes
>>about a month after the president signed a new energy policy dramatically
>>reversing the nation's approach to oil shale and opening the door within
>>a few years to companies that want to tap deposits on public lands.
>>
>>The report also says oil-shale mining, above-ground processing and
>>disposing of spent shale cause significant adverse environmental impacts.
>>Shell Oil is working on a process that would heat the oil shale in place,
>>which could have less effect on the
>>environment.
>><http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=53#53>53
>>
>>[snip]
>>
>>For those interested, my posts are here:
>>http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=83#83
>>
>>And here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1476603/posts?page=75#75
>>~ Janice
>>
>>
Received on Sun Sep 4 01:17:55 2005

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