Shell Oil Company officials held a meeting in Grand Junction Thursday to update the community on their progress on oil shale research. The Shell Mahogany Research Project in Rio Blanco County uses an in–the–ground heating method to release oil from surrounding rock. The oil is then pumped to the surface.
One of the major advantages of this process is less ground disturbance. Conventional processes used in the 1970's mined the oil shale and heated it in ovens. The latest procedure to be integrated into the project is to test a frozen underground barrier to protect groundwater. The go–slow approach the company is taking is winning people over.
The company says there are a number of technical difficulties to overcome and it could be years before the project becomes profitable, possibly in the next ten years.
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