Grand Junction Hosts Oil Shale Meeting

Oil shale exploration continues along the Western Slope and one major player talked with residents Wednesday on the progress.

Wednesday's open house with representatives from the Shell Mahogany Research Project was one of four meetings this week in Garfield and Mesa counties.

A year ago much of the discussion was the updated technology to make extraction safer and more environmentally friendly and now the talk is moving forward with the permitting process.

Dozens were in attendance at the Doubletree Hotel, talking with experts in every phase of the Mahogany Project.

Shell has three, 160-acre Bureau of Land Management leases within the Piceance Basin and with the lease awards out of the way, Shell must now obtain permits for test construction, reclamation and operation.

On Wednesday, questions ranged from environmental concerns to rekindling the memory of the 1980s oil shale boom and bust and while there were some disappointments, the project is still very much in its beginning phases.

"We still have some steps to take to ensure that this is something that we can be successful at and success isn't just making oil. Success is being a community member," Shell Mahogany Research Project Public Affairs Representative Jill Davis said.

In the next 6-12 months, residents can expect an update on the project.

But while Shell experts say despite the estimated barrels of oil in the billions along the Western Slope, the updated technology is viable to extract oil shale, but it may be another half decade before seeing if the project will be able to go commercial.

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