Oil shale

I know nothing about oil shale.  Harry Reid, however, made it news by trying to sneak an amendment into a bill that would block developing oil shale.  With oil shale being news, I’ve now learned from someone who seems to be well-informed on the subject (one of Anchoress’ readers) that Reid is acting as if it’s 1970 when he tries to block its use as an energy source.  In fact, says that knowledgeable person, we have vast reserves, and they can be accessed through methods that have minimal environmental impact.

Before I go on this subject, it reminds me again of my point that those who now style themselves Progressive are actually regressive.  The valid debate about abortion is conducted as if out-of-wedlock pregnancies are a heinous social sin, birth control is unavailable, and back alley abortions are commonplace.  The debate about racism is conducted as if Jim Crow still controls, not just the South, but the whole nation.  And now we learn that Harry Reid’s non-debate, sneak tactic about oil shale is, in all probability based on information that is 30 years out of date.

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  • Mike Devx

    Book says,
    Reid is acting as if it’s 1970 when he tries to block its use as an energy source. In fact, says that knowledgeable person, we have vast reserves, and they can be accessed through methods that have minimal environmental impact. […] it reminds me again of my point that those who now style themselves Progressive are actually regressive.

    The Reid/Pelosi axis would love to pretend it was 1970 in banning nuclear power as well. That is as highly regressive a position as that on oil shale. By the way, Three Mile Island, built in 1968, remains up and running, though it was built in 1968 and is antiquated, as is most of our nuclear industry, due to Democrat obstructionism.

    But the United States leads the world in the amount of electricity generated by nuclear power, so Reid/Pelosi/Obama are rather helpless to stop it, especially as the world consumes more energy because they’re all becoming as evil as we are, oops, I mean, because they all want the benefits of a more advanced civilization as we have.

    The Reid/Pelosi/Obama axis can dream of a nuclear fission failure or disaster as they dreamed of a failure or disaster in Iraq, but in its absence, we progress and move forward. If only we could move forward in our other energy sectors as well, free of Democrat obstructionism.


    Of the 30 countries with nuclear power, the percentage of electricity supplied by nuclear ranged widely: from a high of 78 percent in France; to 54 percent in Belgium; 39 percent in Republic of Korea; 37 percent in Switzerland; 30 percent in Japan; 19 percent in the USA; 16 percent in Russia; 4 percent in South Africa; and 2 percent in China. [In the U.S.] There have been a lot of announced intentions (about 30 new reactors´ worth) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now reviewing four Early Site Permit applications.

    Statistics op top nuclear countries from:

    Nation #Reactors Gigawatts %Electr.
    US 104 99 20
    France 59 63 80
    Japan 55 48 30
    Russia 31 22 16

    World 439 370 16

  • David Foster

    They’ve slowed down nuclear pretty effectively in the U.S., as your 20% number (vs 80% for France) demostrates. They’re probably going to essentially stop the construction of new coal plants, and they are very hostile to hydro as well. Wind and solar, in addition to their inherent technical problems, will suffer from protests and litigation directed against the transmission lines necessary to connect them to their loads.

    This leaves natural gas as the only practical power source we will be allowed to develop, and it will often have to be depoyed in the form of relatively small and inefficient units.

    Expect much higher electricity prices, especially as the growing demand for natural gas runs up the costs of this fuel.

    The Pelosis of the world will then blame the problem on eevil corporations.

  • suek

    I have some horses to sell….! At this rate, it may get down to that!

  • BrianE

    From a 2005 article:

    The development of an economically viable way to extract oil from oil shale would put a ceiling on oil prices and would extend the oil era by decades. It would also increase the odds of significant global warming. Well, in light of all that a variety of media outlets are reporting that Shell Oil thinks it can produce oil from oil shale at $30 per barrel using an in situ process where the shale is cooked without first mining it onto the surface.
    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.
    Shell is just now moving onto the next stage to decide by 2010 whether their process is commercially feasible.

    Colorado has the largest oil shale deposits and some deposits have more oil per ton of rock.
    Steve Wiig, geologist for the Rock Springs BLM office, said Wyoming oil shale, on average, would produce 15 to 30 gallons of oil per ton of oil shale rock. He said the Colorado and Utah deposits could produce 30 to 40 gallons, with some sites capable of producing 60 gallons of oil per ton of oil shale.
    Some estimates for the amount of oil in shale range as high as 1 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels. Assume that 1 trillion barrels could be extracted. The United States currently uses about 20.5 million barrels per day which is about a quarter of current world oil demand. World oil demand is projected to rise to 119 million barrels per day by 2025 or about a 50% increase. Suppose we take that 119 million barrel figure and round it off to 120 million barrels. Also let us assume that oil shale could yield 1 trillion barrels of oil. That oil shale would satisfy total world oil demand by this equation: 1,000,000 million barrels/(365 days per year times 120 million barrels per day) which equals only 22 years at the projected year 2025 consumption rate. Even oil shale can delay the end of the oil era by a couple of decades. Still, we could use those decades to develop technologies to lower the cost of nuclear and photovoltaic solar power.


    Here’s the Democrat view on Oil Shale

    Oil Shale Moratorium
    • For the first time last year, Congress enacted an additional rider preventing DOI from issuing final regulations to allow for the leasing of federal lands to produce energy from oil shale.4 The oil shale moratorium is also set to expire on September 30, 2008.