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BLM Drops ExxonMobil from Oil Shale RDD Project Bidding

Oilshalemap
Oil shale territory.

The Grand Junction (Colorado) Sentinel reports that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has dropped ExxonMobil’s application for a 160-acre lease for oil-shale research, development and demonstration. (Earlier post.)

According to the report, the BLM spokespeople present at an Open House on the project did not know the exact reasons ExxonMobil’s application was dropped, although some attendees at the event speculated that it was because of a lack of specificity on how it would recover nahcolite, used to make baking soda and other products. BLM guidelines do not allow the development of one mineral at the expense of another.

Oil shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen—a solid organic precursor to oil and gas—from which oil and gas can be obtained through the application of heat. There are two basic approaches to processing oil shale: mining the rock and heating it in a surface retort, and heating the rock in the ground, to then pump up the resulting oil (in-situ).

There are now three companies remaining seeking the federal leases for research, development and demonstration (RDD) projects, all using in-situ technologies:

  • Shell Frontier Oil and Gas. Shell uses electric heaters to heat the shale. The company said that one lease is to est an advanced heater design, another to verify the process for nahcolite recovery, and the third to continue with its current oil shale test. (Earlier post.)

  • Chevron, with one lease application, wants to drill and fracture the shale to create a zone of shale rubble that it would then heat and treat with chemicals. Chevron proposes that its fracturing process would cut the required underground temperature in half, and allow for quicker production.

  • EGL Resources, with one application, plans to circulate steam through the shale zone.

BLM has been holding a series of open houses on the projects, in addition to seeking public scoping comments earlier in the year.

According to Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), which prepared the report on scoping comments, about 4,735 individuals, organizations, and governmental agencies provided comments or suggestions on the scope of the programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), approximately 4,650 of those comments from individuals.

More than 350 people registered their attendance at the public meetings in January 2006; 63 individuals in attendance provided oral or written comments, or both, during the meetings. Of the remaining scoping comments that were submitted, about 94% were submitted by mail and 6% were submitted via the online comment form.

In the report, ANL organized the comments into the following categories: environmental concerns, socioeconomics, resource and technology concerns, stakeholder involvement, cumulative impacts, mitigation and reclamation, policy, land use planning, alternatives, and other issues.

The most frequently stated comments were concerns and questions about the amount of water that OSTS (oil shale and tar sands) development technologies would require and how the technologies would impact surface and groundwater. (Earlier post.)

Specifically, commentors observed that the processes would consume large amounts of water in a region where water resources are very limited. Many commentors questioned specifically where the water would be obtained from and who would lose water in order to provide needed water to OSTS development. It was stated that other industrial development would be limited because there would be no remaining water resources.

Another major concern was the amount of energy required to power the OSTS development. Commentors requested that the PEIS address the sources of power for each project and the numbers and locations of required new power plants.

Resources:

Comments

Rafael Seidl

The federal government owns huge oil shale deposits. Given the high cost of imported oil (in dollars as well as terrorism/war) and the revenue opportunity, it is understandably keen to see this resource developed:

http://www.evworld.com/library/Oil_Shale_Stategic_Significant.pdf

Due to unacceptable environmental damage from open pit mining of oil shale, only in-situ processes are now considered. The traditional method is to inject steam, but this requires large amounts of water that is in short supply in Western Colorado. Diverting water from the upper Colorado river would reduce the volume available to downstream consumers (chiefly, Southern California). Hence the ideas of electric heating or underground blasting plus solvents. All of these approaches are of course very expensive and carry pollution risks (cp. tar sands, only worse).

On the plus side, any requirement by Congress for the oil industry to limit its imports of foreign crude will keep prices high enough for biofuels to compete even without subsidies. In time, they may become available in sufficient quantities at sufficiently low cost for oil shales to be abandoned again.

Cervus

Shell claims a positive energy return of about 3 to 1, last I read. But I frankly don't have much faith in this process.

As far as biofuels are concerned, the only thing I've found that can possibly replace our transportation petroleum use is algal oil. Estimates based on past research have it producing 10-20,000 gallons per acre. But I'll take soybeans and rapeseed in the meantime.

Erich J. Knight

I saw an article about Chevron having a nanotech process for
tar sand oil that's so efficient that $35 oil will be profitable. What if they could develope this tech for CO2 injection? or Oil shales!??......
http://www.foresight.org/nanodot/?p=2179

Erich J. Knight

Craig Capson

I have been watching very careful the information on technology on oil shale. Most people involved look at the old technology and base their evaluation of how to extract the oil on a retort system or insitu. There is however a new technology that in the lab worked very well. The problem is that oil people are of the class once burned twice shy. I can tell you now that water is not a problem that there is way more than we will ever need to use, and that are process cleans up the water and it is fit for consumtion. We do not need a out side sourse of water, there is plenty in the shale for our use. We can produce 18,000 barrels of oil per day, plus 300 megawatts of clean electricty that is a by product. We also produce cement for bricks and as a road base that is not going to produce particulate matter in the air. We have come up with a process of sequestering the co2. We do not need a refinery to produce diesel, or jet fuel. Gasoline does require a hydronation plant process.Funny that nobody wants to do a diligence study. What happened to the real venture people in the world to day? Oil companies should have been rushing to check out this technology. We can see that they are to comfortable. But for you with vision contact us at E:mail bobweeks2@comcast.net or phone us at1-801-403-6554 we would be happy to send you a copy of the business plan or let you review the technology. What have you got to lose? This is for REAL.

Anne

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Emmanuel Gibson Aubyn

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
I make research on electric vehicles and I know that ExxonMobil is interested in fuel cell etc. Twenty years ago ; I visited one engineer here in Austria who was working on zinc bromide batteries and he told me that. Esson was the sponsor.
I will like to do a research whereby, a three-phase induction motor will be used as an alternator. I will be very glad if you could look for an induction motor's R&D group to work with me on this experiment and also sponsor it.
it will not at all be expensive but I can assure you all that it can give us all the ultimate solution to a search for clean and cheap energy to save our planet and us.
Please contact me so that i can send you my entire "life-saving" project. Thank you all very much.
Sincerely,

Emmanuel Gibson Aubyn.

Emmanuel Gibson Aubyn

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
I make research on electric vehicles and I know that ExxonMobil is interested in fuel cell etc. Twenty years ago ; I visited one engineer here in Austria who was working on zinc bromide batteries and he told me that. Esson was the sponsor.
I will like to do a research whereby, a three-phase induction motor will be used as an alternator. I will be very glad if you could look for an induction motor's R&D group to work with me on this experiment and also sponsor it.
it will not at all be expensive but I can assure you all that it can give us all the ultimate solution to a search for clean and cheap energy to save our planet and us.
Please contact me so that i can send you my entire "life-saving" project. Thank you all very much.
Sincerely,

Emmanuel Gibson Aubyn.

Craig Capson

Still out here, pluging along on the oil shale. If you have and interest in Oil shale and a new process, we are in the middle of trying to prove a new and different process. Oil shale will never take care of all of our energy problems but it will take care of some of them. It has the potential to cause some spin off,s that can be very good for the nation and the economy. Will keep you all informed as time goes bye.

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