The Green River Formation, a largely vacant area of mostly federal land that covers the territory where Colorado, Utah and Wyoming come together, contains about as much recoverable oil as all the rest the world’s proven reserves combined, an auditor from the Government Accountability Office told Congress on Thursday.
The GAO testimony said that the federal government was in “a unique position to influence the development of oil shale” because the Green River deposits were mostly beneath federal land.
“Developing oil shale and providing power for oil shale operations and other activities will require large amounts of water and could have significant impacts on the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater resources,” Mittal said in her written testimony. “In addition, construction and mining activities during development can temporarily degrade air quality in local areas. There can also be long-term regional increases in air pollutants from oil shale processing and the generation of additional electricity to power oil shale development operations. Oil shale operations will also require the clearing of large surface areas of topsoil and vegetation which can affect wildlife habitat, and the withdrawal of large quantities of surface water which could also negatively impact aquatic life.”
These are essentially gigantic strip mines that produce an oil that is high in sulfur and carbon. It may provide some boost to our oil supply, but to produce it in large would mean the destruction of many thousands of acres.
In my opinion, there are far better alternatives, especially natural gas.
“I think that fracking as a technology is perfectly capable of being clean. I do. But it requires people who are doing it and innovators who use the technology to take some time to make sure that it’s done right. And it requires smart regulation, smart rules of the road,” Jackson said.
In an interview with Brad Wurfel, the Communications Director of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality which regulates fracking he said:
‘I can speak to the fact that in 50 years and 12,000 wells around the state, we’ve never had to respond to an environmental emergency with hydraulic fracturing. It’s been done safely.’
Shale drilling can be safe, U.S. official from Fort Worth says
An Energy Department official heading a new committee charged with coordinating efforts among three federal agencies to research the risks and benefits of unconventional oil and gas production says he believes it can be done safely.
Oil shale processing isn’t hydraulic fracturing. The oil is bound up in the fine-grained matrix of the rock and must be removed. Typically, the rock is mined just like coal - either strip or pit mines on the surface or sub-surface tunnels. The shale is then heat treated to remove the oil. I have heard of some attempts to extract the oil while the rock is still in the ground, but I don’t know if that has been shown to be economically or technologically feasable yet.
Oldcelt is right about the strip mines and he is also probably right about the sulfur. I don’t know of any oil that doesn’t have a high carbon content, though.
You can’t pump oil from oil shales. You mine it, grind it up and heat it up to drive off the oil. Oh, and it is very expensive to do all that compared to producing petroleum from conventional reservoirs.
have developed ways to tap the oil in situ, by drilling boreholes that are thousands of feet deep and feeding into them inch-thick cables that are heated using electrical resistance and that literally cook the surrounding rock. The kerogen liquefies and gradually pools around an extraction well, where the oil-like fluid can easily be pumped to the surface.
The process involves no mining, uses less water than other approaches, and doesn’t leave behind man-made mountains of kerogen-sapped shale. And according to a Rand Corporation study, it can also be done at a third of the cost of mining and surface processing.