unset($_SESSION['OmniStatsList']); } ?>
Feb 15, 2012
Earth's Untapped Reserve
There is one location in the United States that promises to contain more oil than the countries of Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iraq, Kuwait, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Libya, Algeria, Angola, Indonesia and Iran combined.
The Rocky Mountain states of Colorado and Utah lay claim to this insurmountable volume of oil. Wyoming provides its fair share of this same oil as well. Up to 200 feet deep in the Earth, limestone is embedded with shale oil in these three states calculated to contain as much as 800 billion barrels of oil. This oil shale is estimated to be able to supply the United States for a century.
With such monumental amounts of oil, it is a wonder why this oil is not being extracted and providing the U.S. a domestic fuel source.
An attempt to remove the oil from the Piceance Basin in Colorado occurred in the 1970s. Considered an oil boom at the time, government subsidies drove companies like Exxon to find the most feasible way to extract the oil from the shale.
The boom went bust when oil prices fell 72 percent. The government subsidies vanished and Exxon halted its $5 billion project on May 2, 1982, referred as “Black Friday” by Coloradans, as manpower and energy costs to get the oil from the ground proved too high. Thousands lost their jobs, which left a bad taste in the town of Parachute, Colo., where Exxon headed up the project.
Decades later, the oil shale development was resurrected in 2008 by the Bush Administration when 2 million acres of public land was opened up for commercial production of oil shale. Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Shell have been testing new ways of extracting the oil and with the increase in oil prices, the feasibility of oil shale development is thought to be much more realistic.
Engineers at Shell are heating the ground 700 degrees Fahrenheit with steel rods buried 2,000 feet below the ground in Rifle, Colo. The ground will be heated for four years so that plankton and dead plant hydrocarbons become high-quality crude.
Chevron proposes to shatter shale that is 200 feet below the earth. The crumbled shale would then be saturated with chemicals so that the oil can be retrieved. This process is believed to use less power and reduce production costs.
Electrically charged petroleum coke particles are planned to be shot into shale cracks by Exxon Mobil. A subterranean hotplate would be created, cooking the shale into crude.
All of these extraction methods are still in the testing phase with the actual commercial production believed to be at least a decade away. Just as valuable as gold, the water used in test production along with a number of other current and past concerns has many Coloradan’s still apprehensive by the new technology to extract oil from shale.
In 2010, Chevron halted its oil shale exploration when it decided to not continue on with its request for Yampa River water rights, indicating the economic downturn as a contributing factor for the stoppage.
Oil companies are optimistic that technology will make oil shale development achievable. The immediate halt by Exxon in the 1980s and Chevron just a few years ago does little to ease public concern that if oil shale development is too cumbersome of turning oil shale into crude the locals will be left with the products of the deserted companies.
If history repeats itself, those companies will vacate the area if oil shale is not attainable in pursuit of other lucrative locations while leaving scarred land, depleted wate, and polluted air from generators powered by coal.
Your vote has been counted.
|Yes, we predict incredible growth (32%)|
|Yes, our business continues to grow steadily (44%)|
|No, we expect business to remain the same (20%)|
|No, the economy has greatly affected our business (28%)|