Monday, September 05, 2005


Oil Shale bonanza

According to the Rocky Mountain News, Shell has worked out an 'ingenious' method of removing oil from rock. There are potentially a trillion barrels of oil in shale in the state of Colorado.

Drill shafts into the oil-bearing rock. Drop heaters down the shaft. Cook the rock until the hydrocarbons boil off, the lightest and most desirable first. Collect them.

Please note, you don't have to go looking for oil fields when you're brewing your own.

On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.

While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world.

A trillion barrels would supply the U.S., at 25 million barrels a day, with enough oil for 109 years. I wonder if Shell is buying a lot of long-term out of the money light sweet crude oil puts?


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