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US Task Force on Unconventional Fuels Completes Plan; Calls Situation Urgent and Targets 7M Barrels Per Day by 2035

Unconventional fuels objectives for 2035. Click to enlarge.

The Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels, established by the Secretary of Energy under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, has completed an integrated strategy and program plan to coordinate and accelerate the commercial development of strategic unconventional fuels within the United States, including oil shale and tar sands, heavy oil, enhanced oil recovery, and coal-derived liquids.

The Task Force concluded that the domestic and global fuels supply situation and outlook is urgent.

The Nation is substantially at risk, from an economic and national security perspective, to warrant development of an aggressive integrated unconventional fuels development program, supported by attendant policies to promote expeditious development of these resources.

While the task force expects that these unconventional fuel resources should and will be developed primarily by industry, the report identifies a range of policy options to be considered by Federal, state, and local policy makers to stimulate timely investment with an objective to achieve aggregate production levels in excess of 7 million barrels per day by 2035.

The integrated plan details proposed program objectives, strategies, key activities, and timelines providing the basis for subsequent program implementation planning.

The task force cautions that unconventional fuels are no panacea, however.

Even with the production of almost 7 million barrels per day of incremental supply by 2035, unconventional fuels development would only slightly reduce the volume of net imports, after offsetting expected demand growth. As such, reducing demand must also be part of the nation’s overall strategy for lowering imports and achieving greater self sufficiency.

...The most likely place for efficiency gains relative to liquid fuels is in the individual transportation sector. It is assumed that expected efficiency gains in aircraft, trucks, and industrial uses have already been accounted for in the AEO base case. To achieve this objective the public will need to become part of the solution.

Becoming “part of the solution”, according to the task force, entails:

  • Increasing fuel economy through improved engine and vehicle efficiency and consumer choices. The public might be persuaded, according to the report, to buy a more efficient vehicle at a rate of 20% improvement over 17 years. This is equivalent to each buyer improving mileage by 1.2% for each year of vehicle upgrade. An accelerated case presented in the study assumes a 30% improvement over 17 years—the equivalent of 1.75% per year.

    Resolving poor driving habits could add about 7% to MPG. The analysis assumes that for each year 3% of the population adopts fuel saving driving habits or 5% adoption in the accelerated case. A 5% improvement translates to an oil demand reduction of approximately 1 mbpd.

  • Reducing miles driven, by changing habits, proximity to work, etc. Reducing net miles driven by 20% in 30 years for the moderate case and by 30% in the accelerated case is done by a combination of car pooling, mass transit (electric powered), telecommuting, and reversal of the commuter culture (jobs closer to homes, or more urban living). The analysis assumes an adoption rate of 3%/year in the moderate case and 5% in the accelerated case.

  • Reducing the number of people driving which is a function of total population, carpooling, use of mass transit, etc. The analysis assumes an underlying population growth rate of 0.823% per year. Population increase effectively offsets conservation gains, but conservation is needed if there is to be a net decrease in demand as population grows...From these calculations, it is clear that the biggest impact would be from people electing to purchase vehicles with higher MPG.

The task force has transmitted a three-volume report to policymakers for their review and consideration.

These volumes include:

  • Volume I: Preparation Strategy, Plan and Recommendations

  • Volume II: Resource-Specific and Crosscutting Plans

  • Volume III: Resource and Technology Profiles

Significant challenges constrain the development of these resources, according to the task force. The nature of these challenges, depending on the resource, can include technology readiness; access to resources on public lands; development economics; environmental concerns; socio-economic effects; water resources; markets; and infrastructure, among others.

The Integrated Plan provides an approach for evaluating and addressing each of these challenges and proposes an integrated strategy for achieving production from this suite of resources that could reach approximately 7 million barrels/day of oil equivalent by 2035.

The Task Force is comprised of the Secretaries of Energy, the Interior, and Defense, five governors (CO, WY,UT, KY, MS) and three representatives from potentially impacted communities.



John Schreiber

George and Dick,
put this in your pipe and smoke it. conservation is a virtue.

Rafael Seidl

How telling that the study does not consider biofuels or (renewable) electricity among the candidates for "unconventional fuels", even though it looks ahead some 30 years. It does advocate conservation but only because there's a limit to how much unconventional fuel can be produced from domestic fossil sources.

This is what happens when you let a bunch of coal and oil men write a report in preparation of a national fuels policy, with apparently little or no input from automotive experts, agronomists, electrical engineers, electrochemists, urban planners or anyone else who could shed some light on what may realistically become possible beyond digging more holes in the ground.

Kit P

That is right John. It sounds like John is one of those people who wants legislation making it mandatory by restricting personal freedom. Carefully who you ask for.

Kit P

Rafael, this not telling at all since biofuels are covered elsewhere in the 2005 Energy Bill. Ethanol is doing better than expectations in the US.

Jim G.


There you go again.

How much public money is being requested for "strategic unconventional fuels" (formerly known as fossil fuels) ?


If there are binding carbon caps in 2035 then the 7 mboe of greenhouse gases will have to come off something else. An SUV in the driveway but you'll have to illuminate your home with candles instead of coal fired electricity.


As someone already poinyed out bio and alot else is already in other parts of the overall plan. Hell if they could manage it they would have fuel from big fat hairy belgins in somewhere.

This part is only about stuff in the ground wich makes sense as they have a devision dealing with that and only that subject.


Kit P, you mean legislation to stop your freedom to pollute my air, compromise my health and the future environment for my kids? You bet! If you want to live like a colony of E. coli over growing its nutrient plate go live on Easter Island.


CTL ... yikes! Does it get any dirtier than that? Maybe if you put the word "strategic" in front of it or use loaded phrases like "national security" or dub it the "war on watermelon greenies" you can sell it to the American people (and make a bag of money in the process). If you get people scared enough and convince them that their SUV "way of life" is in danger then you can get away with murder (in this case the planet).


Yeah, not surprising coming from an agency controlled by a junta of oil and arms dealers. I'd be surprised if we're still talking about these things in 2035. The planet will either have shut down and bucked us off like the all-consuming virus we act like; or we'll primarily be getting around in EVs.

Jim G.

I guess Kit didn't mention that by "personal freedom" she's talking about corporations as legal "persons" :-) Hopefully there's some freedom for rest of us peons once they're done taking what they will.

John Schreiber

@ Kit
I am simply poking fun at the present administration for their incredible disconnect from reality. I am switching from the DEM party to REP party so I can vote for Ron Paul in the primary.

I would support a tax on the nonrenewable carbon (Well or Mine to Wheels) in fuel, as long as the same bill abolished the counterproductive income tax.

If you read between the lines of this great study, you won't need a tax, the market will create one.


at first i was going to post a comment about the conveniently selected five states represented on this task force, but the other thing i noticed is too funny. check out who the "three representatives from impacted communities" are.

1) associated governments of northwest colorado - from its website:

"One of the primary goals of our regional association has been to help get our fair share of federal and state tax dollars back to this region. This is especially important with 2/3 of the land in our region federally owned and tax exempt plus the large portion of energy revenues produced. 100% of Colorado’s Oil Shale is located within this region. Approximately 55% of Colorado coal is produced in the region, approximately 33% of Colorado Oil is produced in the Rangely oil fields, and approximately 37% of Colorado’s natural gas wells were permitted in the region in 2003."

2) uintah county vernal city economic development, utah - this group's website is under construction so i couldn't quickly find much out about it. one relevant point: the county had just over 25,000 residents according to the 2000 census.

3) choctaw county economic development foundation, mississippi - for those unfamiliar with that area, choctaw county is a rural county in north central mississippi. the foundation website describes the county as "rural living at its best." population in the 2000 census almost, wait for it, almost 10,000.

wow, now that's representation.

Jim G.


Isn't Ron Paul a libertarian? Gale Norton, who ran the Interior Department for W, was a libertarian for years. Last I heard, Libertarians advocated abolishing the EPA and the NTSB, repealing the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, selling off conservation land and letting Kit P. drill for 'strategic unconventional fuels' on it.

John Schreiber

@ Jim
I don't know about Norton, but based on fiscal responsibility W and DC are not Republicans. Watch the Google video interview of Ron Paul.

Really we should switch coal consumption from power plants to CTL right away! This report only suggests 300 million or so tons of coal annually to produce 40 billion gallons of oil, when we currently burn over a billion tons of coal in power plants annually, we should triple these numbers and replace all of our coal burning power plants with clean NexGen nuclear power plants. Large scale CTL will quickly help establish a biomass economy and large scale BTL production. Energy independence is a national security issue and is America's biggest priority.

Robert Marston

For Rafael --

So freedom means being wedded indefinitely to a continuously more dirty, expensive and polluting fuel source?

Rafael's definition of freedom -- the only fuels we can use are oil, coal, gas...

When are people going to understand that conservation is not about harming consumers but about pushing businesses to advance their products? If government had intervened in the 70's and mandated stepped changes in technologies would we be watching foreign automakers eat Detroit's lunch in the face of rising fuel costs?

If Rafael's philosophy were applied to the defense department, for example no 'big government' spending would be legislated for the air force, navy, or army. Instead, we'd all be encouraged to buy guns from Colt in the event of an invasion or terrorist attack. In essence, the synthetic fuels only model is a model that abandons consumers and most progressive businesses and enforces a 19th century economic model.

Freedom? What does it mean to me? When I go to a car dealership, I want the freedom to choose between gasoline, electric, and biofuels. When are these fossil fuel nazis going to stop trying to shove their carbon trash down our throats?

Unfortunately, what we have had is a failure of leadership while the pro-oil Luddites have run rampant. The result -- energy crisis for the forseeable future endangering modern civilization. Individuals have had to step in where governments and mainstream businesses have failed.

And you call that freedom? For shame!

Go nanosolar et all!

Robert Marston

Edit my last statement for Kit.

My apologies Rafael :)

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