Oil Shale Expansion Continues On Western Slope

A member of a team trying to make oil shale commercially viable tells the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board it's ready to move on to the next phase. Tracy C. Boyd is the Sustainable Energy Development Manager for Shell. He told the committee Thurswday night that it has overcome some of the challenges that stopped oil shale production in the 1970's.

Shell's in–ground process uses heaters to cook oil from the surrounding rocks over two to three–years. Boyd says the company has now produced reliable heaters and has had a successful small–scale test of technology that will trap water to limit pollution of nearby aquifers.

Boyd says the In–situ process produces 3 1/2 half times as much energy as it uses and initial tests show more than twice as much oil recovered in the new process as in traditional mine–crush and heating methods.

Shell estimates it can recover one million barrels of oil from one acre of shale. Boyd cautioned the committee that the company is proceeding slowly with the process ands it will still be years before a decision is made on commercial production.

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