Shale and Sands Oil Recovery LLC, a private company, has developed and patented a new method for producing useable oil from oil shale.
The new method uses little water and produces minimal amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. It is an in situ technique that uses supercritical material to quickly mature the oil shale from a kerogen-containing rock to shale oil that is ready to be shipped to a refinery. In Colorado's Piceance Basin alone there may be over 1.5 trillion barrels of oil according to the US Geological Survey. This is almost 5 times the size of Saudi Arabia's 300 billion barrels in reserves by some estimates. Global oil shale resources have been estimated to be over 3 trillion barrels of oil. As such, the development of this new method has wide global implications.
The method, invented by Thomas O'Brien, utilizes a high temperature nuclear reactor since the output temperature is over 500 degrees Celsius. The types of reactors that produce this heat level are liquid metal-cooled reactors (which use negligible water to operate) and high temperature gas-cooled reactors. With this level of heat production, supercritical material, such as small amounts of water, can be injected into the shale formation initially causing a much higher degree of permeability then forming a reservoir of crude oil that can be pumped from the formation using conventional drilling methods. Thomas O'Brien, a geoscientist with over 30 years of experience and expertise, developed the method by studying and working in the reservoir analysis area then on the use of supercritical materials in concert with experts on oil shale.
"This is a breakthrough technology that largely resolves the issues associated with water use and greenhouse gas production during the oil shale production process," stated Thomas O'Brien. "In addition, environmentally responsible development of our domestic oil shale resources will lead to increased energy independence that the US must achieve."
In August, a team from SASOR presented an overview of the method to the Natural Resources Authority in Amman, Jordan. Representatives from many major international energy companies were invited and attended the meeting.
Source: Shale and Sands Oil Recovery LLC