Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Retiring of Blog

To those that have been reading and listening to this blog, I would like to personally thank you. I hope you received a large amount of information regarding shale oil and gas and issues involved.  This blog is now going into retirement and will not be active any more.

I would like to point you in the right direction if you are looking for future information on the petroleum industry and shale oil information:

With a closing of the blog..."We usually find gas in new places with old ideas. Sometimes, also, we find gas in an old place with a new idea, but we seldom find much gas in an old place with an old idea. Several times in the past we have thought that we were running out of gas, whereas actually we were only running out of ideas." - Adapted from Parke A Dickey by American Potential Gas Committee

Dr. Chrysoberyl

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back to the Basics

The world energy demand is increasing every day and fossil fuels are a large portion of the resource to supply the demand.  Fossil fuels will be used to support the energy demand for multiple years, yet alternative energy will continue to rise and help support the energy demand.  Below is a figure that shows a forecast model for energy demand and what will help support that demand. 
As you look at the graph, you will notice that we are not at a peak demand in fossil fuels yet.  So how are we going to obtain a large enough supply for this large demand?  Geologist in the petroleum industry have already started on this problem.  Just like there is multiple different forms of energy; there are multiple different systems that hold fossil fuels.  The question for the development of all these different types of petroleum systems is political and environmental issues.  It is true, "the easy oil is or has been produced."  To supply the world with future fossil fuels, it is going to take into account good geology, good petroleum engineering, and good environmental controls.  The figure below shows the multiple different types of petroleum systems (conventional: structural and stratigraphic & unconventional: coalbed methane, shale gas, tight sand/carbonate, shallow basin methane, oil shale, tar sands, and hydrates) out there, and the positive aspect of this is that the United States has most of these present in the land which we live. 

What Was Said...

A recent AAPG Explorer article, What Did They Say About Climate Change?, talks about a member, Hannes Leetaru, who has setup a great website for all up to date news on energy and climate issues.  In the AAPG article, he discuss how scientist have done a poor job of communicating to the public in the past.  He makes good points such as, "we live in the public spotlight, unlike most other fields, and we need to heed this and do a much better job." So with that being said, he has created an amazing website that can lead you to all the updated news about climate and energy.

As I scanned the website for most recent updates on oil news in the country, I came across a debate about President Obama's speech about high oil prices.  Are you tired of paying extremely high oil prices at the pump? (The video is long but just watching the first few minutes will give you a good idea.)

In the video, it is not clear what President Obama wants to do to help increase the supply of oil to this country.  The Fox Reports also are very confused on the prospective of the President's views on drilling.  I feel that the President has not made a clear decision on whether or not to allow a vast majority of permits for offshore drilling and oil shale drilling.  Prices in the United States are at a high again and there needs to be an increase in domestic drilling to support the decrease in foreign supply.  The United States has many resources available.  One of the greatest things about the Gulf of Mexico is that it produces oil at a very high rate and is a large contributor to our domestic supply of oil.  Therefore, the politics need to understand how the high prices are affecting the average American and need to release permits to drill in areas of high success. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is Enough?

Everyone of us wakes up and turns on the faucet, hoping water will flow out, but most of us don't think about the how much water we use on a daily basis.  We don't consisder if there is a scarcity of water out there or not.  In a recent article, Oil Shale expert says Obama administration stalling much the way Bush dragged feet on climate change, written by David O. Williams, Dr. Jeremy Boak from Colorado School of Mines expresses his views about the development of oil shale in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.  The article debates when is there enough answers to move ahead with the development of oil shale, addressing the issue with water, energy, and the environment.

During the process of heating shale rock to extract organic kerogen and refining it into oil consumes a large deal of water and energy.  Right now Shell Oil says they can produce about 1 bbl of oil from about 3 bbl of water; Boak believes after research and improved technology that this ratio can be one to one.  The article also discusses how the produced natural gas can power the refinery plants to produce oil from the shale rock.  The government, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, states the BLM needs to have a better idea of the "amount of power needed, water needed and the impact to wildlife habitat and watersheds" before commercially exploiting the Green River Formation for oil shale and opening up around 2 million acres of BLM land for research and development. 
“It is a distortion to say we have to have an answer about water use because we have an answer about water use and either that answer is good enough – that three barrels per barrel is something we can live with – or it isn’t,” Boak said. “If it isn’t, then it’s incumbent on both the government of Colorado and the federal government to say why it isn’t and to say what is OK, and they have completely evaded that responsibility.”

Agreeing with Boak, when will the answer be evident?  What is good enough? And why is it not good enough?  Gas prices are rising drastically and domestic oil is more important than ever.  The government needs to take the steps forward.  Petroleum companies will continue to research and develop technology associated with oil shale, improving processes shown in a previous post (EPICC).

Monday, April 25, 2011


A large percent of the population have negative views about the production of oil shale because of the refining process and the amount of greenhouse gases released.  Adam Brandt and Hiren Mulchandani, Stanford University, might have the answer for this problem -- EPICC (Electricity Production with In Situ Carbon Capture).  EPICC is a proposed new technology that combines production of electricity with capture of carbon dioxide, producing electricity with in situ carbon capture in a self-fueled method. 

EPICC reduces CO2 emissions by:
1. Utilizing waste heat to retort shale
2. Retoring shale beyond the point of HC production, converting much of the organic carbon in oil shale to char which is left in the subsurface
3. Using the produced HC gas to generate, which provides transportation services with no tailpipe emissions

From the research, the resulting life cycle of GHG emissions from EPICC is ~110 g of CO2 per km; this is ~0.5 times those of conventional fuel cycles and ~.33 time those from other proposed in situ oil shale conversion processes. 

Some of the potential negatives of EPICC are: uncertain operation of subsurface fuel cells, potential geophysical impacts without pressure management, and economic concerns associated with the value of stranded energy left in the formation, and the long time period of retorting.
There are ~3 trillion bbl (discovered) of oil trapped within shale oil formations around the world.  The United States has potentially 1 trillion barrels of oil; the world's largest deposit is in the Green River Formation right here in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.  With this new proposed technology, the petroleum industry can better control the amount of greenhouse gases produced and help unlock resources in oil shale formations with better environmental controls.

Related Links:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back Wood Scientist in Motion

Everyone has discussed theories before with peers, family, and friends; but take a look at what this "back wood scientist" has to say about oil and peak oil.  He is off his rocker! 

This movie is a prime example of bad science communication.  His theory has no supporting evidence, and he does not discuss about thermal maturity of petroleum.  There are many issues with this video, and I hope most of them are evident to you as well, raising multiple red flags. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Shale Oil Protest in France!

The environment issue of development of Shale oil & gas has struck Meaux, Brie region of France.  A recent article, Protesters call for shale oil driling ban, discusses the locals' issues with development of Shale oil.  This article and reported conversation (below) shows multiple break downs in Science Communication to the public.

At the beginning of the article it says, "shale oil has presented as a cleaner and more local, alternative to imported petroleum".  There seems to be an initial break down; shale oil is not cleaner than conventional petroleum because it must be process/refined at a higher energy than traditional oil.  As you read this article, many red flags appear from a geologist point of view- 

“The problem with shale gas is the hydraulic fracturing process,” says Eric Vaubourg, from Crécy-la-Chapelle, a town of 4,000 inhabitants a few kilometres south of Meaux. “With this process it’s difficult to extract gas and oil correctly without pollution.”

This quote shows that the general public in this area might not understand fully about hydraulic fracturing.  First, in today's petroleum business, one of the first things to permit a well is to understand the water aquifers present.  Second, the Petroleum industry today mitigates fracturing into the "water table", which is at a shallower depth than the petroleum, by apply a casing design which allows no penetration into the aquifers. Hydraulic fracturing does use a lot of different chemical compounds to help stimulate the process but petroleum companies are required to disperse of these chemicals properly and make sure there is no contamination. 

The locals in this area have every right to argue against drilling for shale oil but must make an educated argument and understand the systems in place.  The petroleum companies in the United States are fracturing wells like crazy right now and are doing it without contaminating our water resources.  The question to the people of France is- if they could produce there own petroleum, creating domestic supply of oil and lower the amount on importing, why would you not honor the exploration and development of shale oil? And, apply regulations to insure petroleum companies are not polluting or contaminating any water aquifers. Please listen to the broadcast below...

It will be interesting to see what the parliamentary debate decides on shale oil drilling in the France.  The debate on shale oil drilling ban starts on May 10th.

REPORT FRA Gaz de schiste reportage

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