Oil shale experiment works

After a year of heating oil shale with underground electric cables high quality oil began to flow.

RIFLE, Colo. — The ramshackle collection of wellheads and electric cables hidden in a pine-covered draw west of Rifle doesn’t look like much now, but until three years ago it was the home of the oil industry’s equivalent of the Manhattan Project.

Over five years here, Shell Oil conducted a series of secretive experiments that have the potential to blow open North American oil production, unlocking the vast reserves of oil shale that underlie western Colorado and much of Utah and Wyoming as well.

Early attempts failed miserably. But beginning in 2002, Shell drilled a honeycombed series of wells, then lowered in giant heating elements, raising the temperature of the shale to 650 degrees for 12 months. Out flowed an abundance of high-quality shale oil.

”It was our "eureka’ moment,“ said Tracy Boyd, a spokesman for Shell, smiling now as he showed off the historic spot. ”Now we know we have a technology that works.“

Shell’s technology and similar oil-extraction methods now have become fodder in the country’s increasingly contentious energy debate, holding out the possibility that America might be sitting on oil reserves equal to a 100-year supply of the country’s imports.

Read the entire story here.

September 25,2008 addition.

Researchers in Canada and Turkey have developed a new process that could lead to the more economical production of oil shale with increased yield. In laboratory-scale experiments, the researchers added inexpensive iron powder to four different types of oil shale combined with heating with electric coils. Production increased by more than 100% for one of the shale samples. Source:http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/09/searchers-devel.html#more

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