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Old 11-24-2007, 09:28 PM
 
Location: Texas
2,703 posts, read 2,612,212 times
Reputation: 206

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Three times the oil in Saudi Arabia:

Oil from a stone - Oct. 31, 2007

Quote:
(Fortune Magazine) -- Touring a drilling site on a dusty mountain plateau above Rifle, Colo., Harold Vinegar stops, grins and then announces out of the blue, "I love that smell!"

No, the Royal Dutch Shell chief scientist is not referring to the crisp fragrance of the high desert air or the conifer scent wafting from the nearby stand of evergreens. Rather, it's the faint, asphalt-like aroma of oil shale - a sedimentary rock rich in kerogen, a fossil fuel that is now the focus of Shell's single biggest R&D investment.
Black gold? Heated, pumped, piped and refined, this rock could end up in a gas tank.

Harold Vinegar believes he has discovered an efficient way to turn oil shale into common fuels.

The raw materials - or prehistoric detritus - that is oil shale

The first field test in 1981 squeezed out a few cups of good oil and a lot of junk; 24 years later, Shell was able to produce 1,700 barrels of high-quality oil.

In 2004, Shell pumped coolant down this well near Rifle, Colo., to test a method to keep oil from leaching.

Reclamation projects, says Shell, will restore the landscape after extraction. Environmentalists are not so sure.

Vinegar is the energy industry's leading expert on the complex petroscience of transforming solid oil shale into synthetic crude - a liquid fuel that can be refined into diesel and gasoline. The breakthroughs this 58-year-old physicist has achieved could turn out to be the biggest game changer the American oil industry has seen since crude was discovered near Alaska's Prudhoe Bay in 1968.

If that sounds like hyperbole, then consider this: Several hundred feet below where Vinegar is strolling lies the Green River Formation, arguably the largest unconventional oil reserve on the planet. ("Unconventional oil" encompasses oil shale, Canadian tar sands, and the extra-heavy oils of Venezuela - essentially, anything that is not just pumped to the surface.)

Spanning some 17,000 square miles across parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, this underground lakebed holds at least 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That's triple the reserves of Saudi Arabia.

The reason you probably haven't heard about the Green River Formation is that most of the methods tried for turning oil shale into oil have been deeply flawed - economically, environmentally or usually both. Because there have been so many false starts, oil shale tends to get lumped with cold fusion, zero-point energy, and other "miracle" fuels perpetually just over the horizon.

"A lot of other companies have bent their spears trying to do what we're now doing," Vinegar says of his 28-year quest to turn oil shale into a commercial energy source. "We're talking about the Holy Grail."
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Summation from the last page:

Quote:
A mature oil shale industry might employ tens of thousands of workers in sparsely populated parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming - and that doesn't include the indirect employment from shop, restaurants and other businesses serving oil companies and their workers. "There's a real question of how we manage that kind of development," says Dammer of the DOE.

While it waits for its latest freeze wall to freeze and for the BLM to grind its way toward some sort of commercial leasing program, Shell is exploring other applications for ICP. It is negotiating with Jordan to test it on that country's oil shale reserves and investigating whether ICP can produce oil from Canadian tar sands - in which Shell also has major investments - more efficiently than current methods.

For his part, Vinegar's attention is focused squarely on Colorado. "So many Americans have no idea that they're sitting on a resource several times the size of Saudi Arabia's," he says. "The fact is that it's entirely possible to produce this stuff. Our technology works. There's no doubt about it."
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Old 11-24-2007, 10:44 PM
 
3,596 posts, read 7,712,766 times
Reputation: 2878
Today I took an elevated subway line around town. I did all of my shopping along transport lines. I didn't get behind the wheel of a car. I didn't burn an eyedropper's worth of oil. I didn't even burn coal. Just electricity provided by nuclear plants.

All this energy, all this money, all this research, all of this effort, being wasted on ways to make sure that we can drive cars and light our homes in the crudest fashion possible. It's ludicrous.
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Old 11-25-2007, 12:16 AM
 
Location: Bronx, NY
2,806 posts, read 15,212,753 times
Reputation: 1076
Agreed. This country needs to wake up. This "American dream" that we've been promoting for the past 60 years has turned into a nightmare. Stop moving out to the farthest reaches of the suburbs and the exurbs and energy consumption won't be such a problem.

Transit oriented development, whether it be in cities or in traditionally designed towns is the way to go. If you live in one of these areas then your carbon footprint will be about 1/3 of the size of someone who lives out in the suburbs in an oversized single-family house and drives everywhere because nothing is within walking distance of their home.

The car companies can push fuel efficiency all they want to, but at the end of the day you're still burning fuel. I don't burn anything but calories when I walk around my neighborhood to do my shopping.
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:19 AM
 
188 posts, read 900,515 times
Reputation: 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by mead View Post
Agreed. This country needs to wake up. This "American dream" that we've been promoting for the past 60 years has turned into a nightmare. Stop moving out to the farthest reaches of the suburbs and the exurbs and energy consumption won't be such a problem.

Transit oriented development, whether it be in cities or in traditionally designed towns is the way to go. If you live in one of these areas then your carbon footprint will be about 1/3 of the size of someone who lives out in the suburbs in an oversized single-family house and drives everywhere because nothing is within walking distance of their home.

The car companies can push fuel efficiency all they want to, but at the end of the day you're still burning fuel. I don't burn anything but calories when I walk around my neighborhood to do my shopping.

You don't think any part of the problem has anything to go with environmentalists who block 2/3'rds of the oil on this planet from being drilled?
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Old 11-25-2007, 01:57 AM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland/ Piedmont, CA
32,394 posts, read 55,240,452 times
Reputation: 15489
Quote:
Originally Posted by wealthtrader View Post
You don't think any part of the problem has anything to go with environmentalists who block 2/3'rds of the oil on this planet from being drilled?
speaking of which,
If its similar to the oil extracted from sand in Canada, then its not clean enough to pass California's emissions standards so we wont be able to use it here anyway, unless the refineries spend a heap of money to clean it, if possible. The price we pay for cleaner burning fuel is high, but its a price we have to pay.
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Old 11-25-2007, 02:13 AM
 
Location: Oahu, Hawaii
29 posts, read 126,998 times
Reputation: 38
This 800 billion barrels of oil is kind of a catch 22.

They have known about this area since at least the '70s, the reason it is still in the ground is that it is VERY expensive to produce. But with the price of oil hovering around $90- $100 a barrel it becomes economically feasible.

The problem arises when all that oil comes on market... Down go the prices and POOF! Too expensive to continue to produce.

I worked for a very large oil company in that area in the early 90's and still work for them but not in that area anymore, and I will tell you this, the exploration has begun but technology is still the hindering element.
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Old 11-25-2007, 03:25 AM
 
Location: Highest county in the Virginia hills
129 posts, read 419,978 times
Reputation: 64
I think we will see some SOME oil production from sources like this (oil shale and tar sands). Naturally it won't really get under way until oil prices get rather higher than they are now... and when it does happen, I doubt the production capacity will get high enough, fast enough, to bring oil prices back down. I think that, with some minor fluctuation, oil prices are going to just go up and up, from now on. True, this will make shale and sand sources profitable for a time, but at that point the price will be so high that demand in many sectors (like fuel for private cars) will be collapsing. People will be restructuring their lives to avoid driving because they will have NO CHOICE. The age of cheap oil is already over. If we put too much effort into developing these marginal oil sources, we're really going to be hurting ourselves in the long run, because we will be avoiding facing the real problem, which is how to organize our society to get by without cheap oil, period.
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Old 11-25-2007, 07:09 AM
 
Location: North Texas
384 posts, read 867,631 times
Reputation: 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by coldwine View Post
Today I took an elevated subway line around town. I did all of my shopping along transport lines. I didn't get behind the wheel of a car. I didn't burn an eyedropper's worth of oil. I didn't even burn coal. Just electricity provided by nuclear plants.

All this energy, all this money, all this research, all of this effort, being wasted on ways to make sure that we can drive cars and light our homes in the crudest fashion possible. It's ludicrous.
Oh yeah, nuclear makes me feel better. A sophisticated fashion nightmare in the making.
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Old 11-25-2007, 07:43 AM
 
Location: Alvarado, TX
2,914 posts, read 4,256,665 times
Reputation: 794
Quote:
Originally Posted by expgc View Post
Oh yeah, nuclear makes me feel better. A sophisticated fashion nightmare in the making.
I'd take nuclear over coal any day of the week.
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Texas
2,703 posts, read 2,612,212 times
Reputation: 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by coldwine View Post
Today I took an elevated subway line around town. I did all of my shopping along transport lines. I didn't get behind the wheel of a car. I didn't burn an eyedropper's worth of oil. I didn't even burn coal. Just electricity provided by nuclear plants.

All this energy, all this money, all this research, all of this effort, being wasted on ways to make sure that we can drive cars and light our homes in the crudest fashion possible. It's ludicrous.
An elevated subway line? What city do you live in?
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