Petrobras to Assess Oil Shale Production in Jordan
25 February 2007
Brazil’s Petrobras has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources (MEMR) of Jordan to undertake a 2-year technical and economic viability study for the use of Petrobras’ oil shale technology—Petrosix—in Jordan’s Attarat field.
Petrobras has been working on oil shale production since 1954. In 2006, Petrobras’ average oil production from shale rock was 4,200 barrels a day at the Schist Industrialization Business Unit (Six) in São Mateus do Sul, 140 kilometers from Curitiba.
The target block—AUG 21 block in the Attarat field—covers an 11 square kilometer area and has potential reserves of 1.7 billion barrels. The shale layer is approximately 70 meters thick.
Jordan’s state Natural Resources Authority (NRA) estimates that the country has up to 40 billion metric tons of proven oil shale reserves in 18 known deposits, which could yield as much as four billion tons of crude oil.
To reduce its reliance on petroleum imports, Jordan is promoting the exploration and development of its oil shale resource. In June 2006, the NRA signed an MOU with Royal Dutch Shell to test the extraction of deep oil shale resources using Shell’s in-situ conversion process in the Azraq and Al-Jafr blocks of central Jordan.
In April 2006, Jordan’s Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation awarded a $310,000 US Trade and Development Agency (TDA) grant to US-based America Asia Petroleum for study of shale oil extraction and recovery. The MEMR is also planning on signing MOUs with companies to carry out feasibility studies on surface oil shale deposits in the Al-Lajoun block in the west.
Based on the results of the studies the MEMR is expecting to open five blocks for bid: Wadi Magher, Sultani, Siwaqa, Jurf and Attarat Umm Ghudran, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The Petrosix process grinds mined shale to pieces no larger than 8cm across. A conveyor belt conveys the ground shale to a retort (vertical cylindrical reactor) that heats the rock to approximately 500°C under which conditions the kerogen releases heavy oil and gas.
>Cooling causes the oil vapor to condense to droplets, which are transported by the gases out of the retort. The droplets are collected and form heavy oil. After heavy oil removal, shale gases undergo another cleaning process for the light oil extraction.
The rest of the mineral is sent to the gas treatment unit, where fuel gas and liquefied gas (LPG) are produced and sulfur recovered. After the oil and the gas are extracted from the rock, whatever is left of it is taken to the mine diggings to be covered by a layer of sand and vegetable soil.
Potential Ground Water and Surface Water Impacts from Oil Shale and Tar Sands Energy-Production Operations (Argonne National Laboratory)
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