Eclectic Floridian: U.S. Oil resources Three-times All Mid-East Countries

Thursday, May 04, 2006

U.S. Oil resources Three-times All Mid-East Countries

The U.S. government-owned Green River Formation contains three-times the oil in all Middle Eastern countries combined. The formation contains 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil. Compare this with Saudi Arabia's 261 billion gallons (Update: make that barrels). The U.S. federalized the land, which straddles Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, in 1930. It conservatively, contains one-half the world supply of shale oil.

What's the catch? It's shale oil, that is, oil contained within a layer of rock. Until now, it has been too expensive and environmentally destructive to recover economically. Well, times are different now and the technology is better.

  • According to the Dept. of Energy, the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Rand Corporation and Shell Oil (links below), the recoverable amount is between 500 billion and 1.1 trillion barrels. Think conservatively, 800 million barrels ... 400 years worth at current consumption.
  • Using In-Situ Retorting, according to the experts linked below, oil can be removed from the rock without mining the rock, then processing it. Instead, In-Situ Retorting:
    1. Freezes the perimeter of an area of rock, using wells to inject coolant to keep out groundwater and contain the oil,
    2. Heats the rock in the interior area to cause oil to seep from the rock so it can be pumped to the surface.
  • Shell has been working on In-Situ Retorting for 20 years. They expect the extraction cost to be $25 per barrel, though some estimates are $20. Shell currently has a test well in the Green River Formation.
Maybe it's time to provide ourselves with our own oil supply until we can develop better energy sources ... ya think?

Refer to:
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
U.S. Dept. of Energy
The Oil and Gas Journal
The Rand Corp.
Shell Oil

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