Australian Company Opens Oil Shale Plant Near Rifle

An Australian–based energy company has reopened an oil shale processing facility near Rifle that has been shuttered for more than a decade. A crew is in the process of starting up the former Paraho Retort Plant not far from the former Anvil Point Federal Oil Shale Research Facility.

The process crushes 4,000 tons of oil–containing shale imported from Australia. Those gravels will be heated in a retort oven to release oil and other byproducts. Paraho began its oil shale work in the 1970's with a privately funded $10 million dollar demonstration program.

The process was on the verge of commercial viability when the federal government ended the syn–fuels program. The facility is being used to explore whether the retort process used for extracting oil from freshwater shales in the western U.S. could be used for similar marine–based shales in Australia.

The plant should be fully running in a few weeks. If all the shale is processed the experiment should end early next year.

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