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Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/02/2008 5:08 PM

At what price per barrel would oil have to reach for oil shale to be mined and processed profitably with today's technology?

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#1

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/02/2008 5:30 PM

We passed that point long ago... about 60 ish a barrel.. Shell has a pilot program for insitu oil shale processing right now near Rifle Colorado. The oil shale is heated in place and the oil pumped out of the ground.

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#6
In reply to #1

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/03/2008 11:41 PM

Funny you mention shell! Shell Australia was formed by amalgamating Shell with John Fell and Co. who operated a shale oil plant in the mountains behind Sydney. They experimented with in-ground extraction with little success. Industrial problems and the advent of cracking eventually closed the plant altogether. I'd heard there are only really two significant shale oil fields, one in Australia and one in Southern America. They simply haven't been big enough to make the technological investment worthwhile

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#2

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/02/2008 9:58 PM

Hello 123youdname

Canada has been doing this type of oil extraction in different locations for many years, with good success.

The main problem appears to be environmental issues, which have not been fully addressed at this stage.

Kind Regards....

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#3

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/03/2008 1:31 AM

I dunno but recently Shell CEO told the US Congress their was no (none) reason for oil price to be over $35 barrel

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#10
In reply to #3

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/04/2008 5:19 PM

There is no geological or supply-demand reason, but the control of oil prices decoupled from both supply and demand at least 36 months ago.

So the reasons for high prices no longer reflect either supply or demand, then they must reflect some other function/desire.

Current prices appear driven by large financial concerns who are interested in driving up prices as much as possible, undoubtedly for their own benefit.

What those motives are, exactly, depends upon a number of unknowns--who controls the money, what their personal goals are and how they intend to achieve them.

As is common in this society, the stated goals and motives of the players are seldom the only or even the main ones held by them.

Note that you always hear about "running out of fossil fuels" based upon "known, extractable reserves." Begging the question about the amounts which are yet to be discovered or which are currently not considered recoverable.

The world economy sucks and has been in bad shape for several years, and yet the prices rise--with this economy our demand is only a percentage of what it could rise to if the economy were running 'hot.'

One main goal appears to be to remove asset value from the average people by inflation.

Another is to control the vital areas of people's lives (i.e. energy, food, water.)

Oil shale, like oil and coal, is a manipulated factor in a much larger game.

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#4

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/03/2008 10:48 PM

The new (300bb vs 30bb) estimates are derived from the ability to do horizontal bores off of shafts and thus open a wider area to extraction. One problem has been that you can only extract a relatively short way from any bore using explosives to crack the shale (unlike sandstone/sand formations.) This meant that the amount of oil extracted from any bore was quite limited, and might not pay for the cost of drilling and extraction.

There's no reason that the environmental problems should be any worse than most oil extraction.

A major consideration for NOT extracting it is military. These shales are in our turf, in an area nearly impossible for an external force to capture. That makes them a huge emergency/military reserve and there will be pressure from DoD not to exploit them commercially.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/03/2008 11:20 PM

Wiz, I agree with your assertion that the DOD wants to keep the US oil shale "in reserve". Of course, that is speculation, at least on my part, but makes sense.

I grew up in Utah, and I now live close to a large air force base (Hill Field). That gives me the opportunity to see first hand some "minor" details which are very interesting. For example, I usually can tell when the Air Force is going to a major engagement, because great numbers of F-16 and other fighters come and go 24/7. The place I am renting now is smack in the middle of the flight path for taking off, and the noise can make me crazy when they are taking off every few seconds.

Well, that is "off topic", so I'll get to the point: I recall that there was talk about oil shale and oil sands when I was in grade school through high school, so that would have been in the late fifties and early sixties! It seems that Utah has quite a large quantity of one of them; I can't recall whether it is oil shale or oil sands. For a long time, the talk centered around the economics of extracting the oil, which then were much different than they are now. Oil was "dirt cheap" then; I could buy gas for my car for 20 cents a gallon. The important thing that I recall was that even the teachers in Junior High and High School, who taught a class in "Utah state History", would tell us that the oil in Utah was too expensive for commercial use BUT it would serve as a "last ditch" reserve for the military should the US ever get into a real shooting war, etc. This was from about 1959 through 1967 or so; I don't know if they continued to teach it after I graduated but I suspect they did, unless they were told not to, etc.

Funny thing is, until you mentioned the military aspect here, I had completely forgotten about it. But, it is good to know that we could get by on our own reserves until we could figure out what else to do to obtain our energy needs.

Larry

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#7

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/04/2008 2:22 PM

Probably an infinite amount....as the price of oil goes up, the price of construction goes up also. Oil Shale facilities are horrifically expensive, and the shale cannot be shipped from the site for processing (like coal or oil). So that means constructing the refinery (processing) system in the middle of nowhere. Energy demands will be huge, as will water consumption, and waste (rock) disposal. My guess is that when oil is $N per barrel, the cost of oil shale extraction is 1.3xN. So it may never close.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/04/2008 3:59 PM

I guess you didn't read my first post? Oil shale was being processed profitably in the 70's, until the price of oil crashed and the oil shale business closed. It is being revived now, and the advantage of doing oil shale processing insitu is that the waste rock disposal problem is eliminated. You are correct, the energy demand is large, but can be overcome at a crude price much less than we have now.

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/04/2008 8:52 PM

Another point is that the amount of oil in oil shale is small (percentage-wise) vs the oil content in say tar sands. Even tar sand processing is enormously expensive and marginally cost effective.

Why would any oil company spend the capital to "go after" processing of shale oil or tar sands when they could easily recover oil from ANWR and drilling on off-shore. The only issues that prevent recovery of those resources are political and when the public gets squeezed badly enough, the politicians will be forced to bow to the general publics wishes (rateher than the environmental looby) or be thrown out of office. The oil companies have nothing to lose in this "political war" since their proven reserves only gain in value (and their companies gain in value) when the spot market for crude goes up. The only way to drive oil prices down is to reduce dependence on them. Then the market will drive the prices down.

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/05/2008 4:30 PM

The Only Way to Drive Prices Down is to Reduce Dependence on Them- caused me to give a GA rating for the post.

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#21
In reply to #11

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/18/2008 7:08 PM

Think for a moment about the US Congress and Senate passing a windfall profit tax or plow-back reinvestment option in the harder to get harder to process oil reserves. They have their choice, the Big Oil Companies do. Now what do you think they would do? Pay the windfall tax? Wrong!

It's our fault because we're not demanding a solution by the Congress and Senate who are holding the reins! Or more crudely stated, they've got us citizens by the family jewels and they're taking graft from OPEC lobbyist! The speculators are only doing what's natural and taking advantage of the situation. The US dollar is weak because we're spending ungodly amounts of money on a stupid war created by fear then compounding it by attacking the wrong country. Iraq and Sadam Hussein did not bring down the World Trade Center. Radical Muslim Osama Bin Laden did.

So did we get confused or lost on our way over to the Middle East? I'd blast Osama's area and the poppy fields right out of existance! There wouldn't be a pi$$ant living in Afghanistan when I was finished! Setting a presidence is only way to show thugs like Osama where to get off!

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#23
In reply to #21

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/18/2008 8:31 PM

why doesn't the government charge the oil companies a fair price for the oil? after all it belongs to the united states, not the oil companies.

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#9

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/04/2008 4:59 PM

I imagine it is already there, as one said it was half and more than the record price of recent times. It is so sad that the transportion infrastructure is so dependent on oil. The world is now urban, and battery to grid highway wires is called for. On Grid and Off Grid machines is categories in conflict. HydroElectric power for the Grid in a system along interstates could well run cars buses & trucks with batteries, sans internal combustion machines. (Wind, and Thermal Solar, and et al are smart and more eligant than Nucelar or Oil, or coal.) Your direction is towards getting the last of the oil. It is not a route I would recommend. Further, to put things in perspective, when I got my first car, my hourly pay was 1.90 an hour, or 2.90 an hour, or whatever minimum wage was. A gallon of gas was .28 cents when I got my first car. It was not that bad in overall quality of life to pay the same sorts of percentages until the Real Estate speculation separated owners from workers so completely.

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#13

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/07/2008 2:36 AM

It has already exceeded that price. It is past time to produce more of our own fuels from whatever sources are economically viable and as cleanly as possible. The price for oil is so high that making synthetic gasoline from coal is profitable. The main problem is the environmental extremists and the politicians who grovel before them and refuse to allow us to produce our own fuel. Making fuels from alternative sources can help, but it cannot keep us or the world operating at our present levels in the absence of oil or synthetic gasoline.

Ask the environmentalists what source of energy that is large enough to operate our technological civilization they approve of. Not hydroelectric, not oil, not coal, not nuclear, so there goes 90% of our energy. A little calculation shows how many thousands of square miles of solar collectors are needed, so that is out. Wind power is not constant and reliable and would require thousands of square miles of wind turbines. Geothermal works best only where there are hot spots and using it brings some toxic material to the surface. When you get a resounding "No!" to each of them, then ask them where electricity comes from and they will likely either say out of the outlet in the wall or argue that we must use less energy. That brings us down to a pre-mechanical style of living very rapidly and effectively ends our civilization. To some of the most extreme environmentalists who think people are a blight on the Earth, except for themselves, having 90% of the world's population die would be a good thing.

Now, if you confront them with the results of their high ideals, they will squirm and call you names, accuse you of all kinds of bad things, but it is almost impossible to get one to admit to being wrong. I know that not all environmentalists are extremists, but they seem to be the loudest.

I am in favor of keeping the planet as clean as economically possible. I am in favor of conservation of wildlife and habitat. Wild animals taste good and I want people to be able to hunt, fish and eat them for many generations. Wood makes beautiful furniture, houses, paper for books and to wife your behind, so I want trees to grow and be harvested for a long time. So I guess I'm a sort of reasonable environmentalist myself.

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#16
In reply to #13

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/08/2008 9:54 AM

hello taganan,

i didn't rate your posting. i feel some of this post is good, but you trivialize the environmental damage from energy resource extraction. what happens when the cost of clean up is higher than the profit from the resource extraction. that is the reality. how much water does it take for oil sand extraction. how much polution of water occurs with resource extraction. i have not read one story of resource extraction, that is beneficial to the environment. the first example i remember reading about was coal liquification. the proposed plant would have needed the equivelant of the flow of the colorado river to move the coal from where it was going to be mined to the coal fired plant where it would be used. needless to say, this didn't fly. oil from tar sand uses massive amounts of water to "wash the tar out of the sand". i recently saw something that i consider obscene. during "shrubs" speech calling for more drilling offshore, the followups showed an off shore oil rig, with voice over comentary. you could see the oil slick from the rig right there in videos. and this wasn't even rated as a problem, just normal, business as usual.

there are countless examples of this type, but to you it is just environmental overeaction. the end result of your preferences, is a world that will not support life. so i guess that would finaly dampen demand. the earth will survive this, weather we can is questionable.

so, tell me again why clean energy is so wrong. tell me again why it is wrong for the government to force a switch from fossel fuels. the only thing preventing us from making the switch is the profits of the shareholders of the oil companies.

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/09/2008 2:16 AM

The water should be contained and reused for coal liquification and to wash oil from tar sand and not released back into the environment until cleaned. If being clean raises the cost to the point it is not competitive, so be it. If there are minor spills despite the best efforts of the companies then don't fine them, just make them do the best clean-up they can. Oil naturally seeps from the ocean floor without drilling. Certainly the rigs should be as clean as it is possible to make them and with regular inspections. There is a balance to be met between our need for energy and a clean environment. You cannot demand perfection, only that everyone try their best.

I do not say that clean energy is wrong, just that it may be insufficient or too costly. One square meter gets an average of 82 watts of solar energy at 100% conversion in 8 hours, that is a constant that cannot be increased. Actual electricity produced is less depending on the efficiency of the collector, weather, season and latitude. So figure out how much land [read as endangered plants/animals] needs to be covered by solar collectors at 82 watts per sq. meter. Research wind turbine sites, geothermal sites and the power losses in transmission lines. Check the costs of doing this and you may find that they are not competitive with present sources or are themselves damaging to the environment. I still have yet to have anyone name an energy source that can replace all of our present energy sources, that is not opposed by some environmental group.

Then you have to consider what increased energy prices will do to our civilization and standard of living. How far back are people willing to reduce their energy use? One LED per room? How few electric appliances? It is not the job of government to force a switch. Only those who believe in the nanny-state think that they and those politicians [mostly hypocrites] who support their view that people do not have enough sense to care for themselves and need to be forced into the behaviors they deem appropriate. Such force is not in keeping with our Constitutional freedoms.

Your politics of hate show when you call President Bush's speech, "shrubs" speech. You also say "the end result of your preferences, is a world that will not support life." which is an absolute untruth except in your extremist view.

If you take the extremist environmentalists, PETA, militant vegans, pro-wilderness supporters, organic food believers and the anti-CO2 crowd and carry their views all together to a conclusion, the world would have a very small population making a small environmental impact or carbon footprint. They would all grow their own organic food, eat no meat or animal products and use no animals for labor, would eat their food raw because they would have no fire and could only use wood and stone tools because working metal needs fire. The new Stone Age. LOL Of course this is poking fun at them, but I doubt you will see the humor.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/09/2008 2:20 AM

Sorry. Mistyped. Should read: One square meter gets an average of 82 watts of solar energy at 100% conversion in 12 hours, that is a constant that cannot be increased.

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/18/2008 8:28 PM

i definitly see the humor.

about your numbers. i can accept them. not an expert there. but, i also know that people can power their homes with a lot less than they think. but not with conspicuous consumption. i live a minimalist lifestyle. i have solar panels that produce a little over 300 watts to my battery bank. thru persistance i built up my battery bank. i do not know what my charging amps is or my amp hours. i now have 16 lead acid deep draw batteries. i have paid nothing for them, except for wire and connectors and distilled water. i never run out of power for my computer, my lights (few), my radio, my solar powered well. i understand that the average family could not live on that little power. but that is because they are not willing to. they would have to reconfigure so as to not need: base board heaters, electric stoves and ovens, electric hot water heaters, electric irons. to include these, they would need 20 times as much wattage as i have, but it could be done. it is done. the solution is to cut their usage of power way down to what they can afford to get from solar panels. when every home in the US is self sufficient, energy will go a lot farther. industries that need high power, would have it. they would pay for it.

energy prices have the potential to get really out of hand. i predicted here about a year and a half ago, that gas could hit $10 in the not too far future. the engineers here said it would never happen. at the time gas was a little over $2 per gallon. now, at my nearest gas pump it is over $5. the reason they are still low is the subsidies that the government gives to the oil companies. without those, gas would be $8 to $10 per gallon. since we are the ones paying the subsidies to the government with our taxes, the cost is already that high, we just don't see it, because it is hidden in taxes and deficit spending.

the oil companies do not NEED the drilling subsidies that our government gives them. this country uses 30% of the worlds energy, provides 3% of the worlds energy. there is no way the oil companies are going to be able to drill their way out of that hole. give the subsidies to alternative energy which is going to have to eventually pick up all of the slack.

trivializing the veg heads and their way of life, is just the first step. they are trivialization, demonization, extermination. it has been a republican trade mark for as long as i can remember. the reason that most people believe that the republicans favor business over people, is that because it is true.

yes, i hate bush. this really does not describe how much i despise the man and his administration. he should be in prision right now. in this country, might is not supposed to make right. but that all changed with the kissinger doctrine.

so, the left just ignores the right as a mad nightmare that will eventually end, that reason will someday prevail.

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/21/2008 10:14 PM

If you want to live that way, good for you. The problem for me is those who would force me to live that way and still have it cost me more.

I only took some of the extremist "veg heads" views to a conclusion following their ideals to illustrate how ridiculous their aims are. They would lead to a new Stone Age if they were all carried out, but even the "veg heads" know better. I am laughing at them, can't you?

"trivializing the veg heads and their way of life, is just the first step. they are trivialization, demonization, extermination. it has been a republican trade mark for as long as i can remember." It seems the Democrats do the same to opponents of GW, to supporters of partially privatizing Social Security, to anti-abortionists [that is: people who oppose killing babies], to most Christians and to parents who want to educate their own children. "the reason that most people believe that the republicans favor business over people, is that because it is true." Yet explain all the Democrats who are rich and feeling guilty about it. Since when has reducing everyone's taxes by the same percentage been unfair or favoring the rich? I certainly am not rich and I know that no one party can favor business over the people and get elected, nor can they always favor the people over business and ruin business. There are those on the Left who would nationalize everything, then hello socialist dictatorship and poverty for all. There is a middle ground where the freedom of the people is maximized and no large powerful organizations, unions or corporations are allowed to do bad things. "yes, i hate bush. this really does not describe how much i despise the man and his administration. he should be in prision right now.[sic]"

While I don't think Bush has done everything right, neither has he done too much that was foreseeably wrong. 20-20 hindsight doesn't count. Prison is totally ridiculous.

I don't hate Clinton. The man is a liar from way back. He should have been thrown out of office. The double-standard Democrats would demand it if a Republican president lied to the entire nation on TV. People did die when Clinton bombed the aspirin factory and in Bosnia and Serbia. People die through presidential actions no matter which party he represents. Neither party is pure, unselfish, honest and serving only for the public good. People don't take on those kind of jobs unless they expect to be rewarded.

Hate is a cancer that will eat you from within. There are many people who do things because they honestly believe they are right, they are not evil, they want to protect their families, friends and country. They love their wives, children and dogs and would be very reluctant to hurt people. Many of them are Republicans. Stop and think what hate would drive you to do to people who simply do not agree with you. Reeducation camps in Alaska? Prisons for saying things you don't like.

"the left just ignores the right as a mad nightmare that will eventually end, that reason will someday prevail." They hardly ignore each other, each thinks the other side is mad [insane] and each side thinks they have reason which will prevail. I am sure that I am a reasonable Progressive Conservative, because there are some on the Right that are too extreme for me. Can you step back and take a second look and say the same?

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#27
In reply to #16

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

08/29/2008 4:04 AM

"the only thing preventing us from making the switch is the profits of the shareholders of the oil companies."

I am not a particular fan of the way that some big oil companies have behaved over the years, but I find the continual harping on about them misses the point.

Oil companies do not set the oil prices and they produce a very small percentage of the worlds oil. About 10% is produced by the big ones I seem to remember reading and they own about 3% of the worlds reserves. Not sure that with these figures the shareholders have the power to prevent us from making the switch if we had the will.

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

08/29/2008 11:33 AM

"if we had the will"

that is the crux of it. historicly that has always been the problem. whenever we get into a situation where the majority thinks the minority is wrong, you would think that we could change it just because we are the majority. wrong. the problem is with "established law". as with all social inequities, it takes a very long time to correct those inequities. the best and clearist example of this was slavery. the vast majority of the people in this country thought it was wrong. protests did not help. agitating did not help. the only thing that ended it was a civil war. then it was another 100 years before they got their legal civil rights. all of this is because the "established law" is so hard to change. the people who make "established law" are the rich, the connected, the powerful. were there any poor, free blacks on the supreme court that kept insisting that slavery was the law of the land and the law must be enforced? no.

the same issues apply to civil rights, women's sufferage, and all major social issues.

as it is now with the oil companies and their profits. the oil companies do not want the status quo changed. they buy politicans. the rich and the powerful have no intention of shareing the wealth or the power. there is a major problem with this. that is that the status quo is harmful to this country and the world. but, because the status quo is best for the well being of the rich and powerful, they prefer to keep it.

so, how does the majority make change in the face of "established law" and in the face of the profits of the wealthy and the powerful? well it is not by listening to them. they would tell you "just wait, the time is not right". this is what they told the slaves. this is what they told the freed slaves. this is what they told women, laborers, gays, lesbians. this is what they tell everyone who is disenfranchised. well, this country can not wait another 100 years to solve this problem. by then, the usa would be just an afterthought in this world. a has been, who hardly matters any more in the big scheme of things. yes the rich and powerful would still be holding on to theirs, but everyone else would be ground into dust.

only the government has the power to peacefully change the status quo thru regulation, for the good of all the people. keeping the status quo is a doomed policy. its end result is not pretty or desireable for anyone. we can not sell out the future of our children and our country just to keep the wealthy wealthy and the powerful powerful. the end result of that would be a vast police state, with force and intemidation being the standard way of keeping the status quo. look at other countries in the world that use that approach. would you want to like that?

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#14

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/07/2008 12:30 PM

The Canadian tar sands are being mined and refined at about $17.00 a barrel. That's why they have three major properties and seveal small projects coming on line, with another 25 to 35 being planned. The big three: Suncor, Syncrude and Shell produce over 1m barrels a day. They want to be producing 5m/day by 2030 (half of what Saudia Arabia does now).

New tech is coming to seperate oil and sand in a closed loop system developed in Utah: google NEVTAH. This is a much better and cleaner system that what Canada uses now $12.50/barrel.

THe eastern Montana and North Dakota "Bakken" oil deposits that are now being drilled hold 500 b barrels, 10% of which should be recoverable. This 10% could supply all of US need for 40 years with no importation of foreign oil.

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Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/08/2008 8:27 AM

The problem is the shale oil is only good for diesel, heating oil, aviation fuel, and natural gas period. It still won't help with the price for gas.

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Location: Earth. England/America -the birthplace of the C. S. A. - anywhere I imagine -home.
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#25
In reply to #15

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/21/2008 10:26 PM

However a lot of the oil that is good for making gasoline is being used to make "diesel, heating oil, aviation fuel, and natural gas". Therefore more shale oil will allow the other oil to be used for making gasoline and will therefore reduce the price or slow its rise by increasing the supply.

Synthetic gasoline from coal can be made for just about the same price as extracting shale oil and that too should be tried to increase the supply and drive down the price. So far environmental extremists and Democrats are blocking all efforts. They want to reduce demand by high fuel taxes so people can't afford to drive.

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Location: Jamestown N.Y.
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#17

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/08/2008 1:21 PM

We as a country import more oil from Canada than from any other, Saudi Arabia in second place. I was surprised by this and got the question wrong when watching Jeopardy.

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#20

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/18/2008 6:34 PM

We are being fleeced because we are not prepared for OPEC gyrations. Big Oil Companies have been profit taking because the U.S. Congress and Senate has not forced them to plow-back invest in the development of harder to get and harder to process oil. Green River and Athabasca hold a great wealth of oil but we have to develop it. An investment the Congress and Senate should have been thinking about.

Somebody on this thread said the DOD was worried about depleting this known reserve. I'd hate for a bunch of war like blued boneheads to be making this kind of decision for the American Citizen. The Muslim world, even the moderates, now know a war with us is futile with our technology. We could clean their clocks in nine point six nanoseconds. So how do you bring us down? Through terrorism and attacks on our ecnomony. But they haven't figure out yet that if they bring the U.S. down the rest of the world is in for some REALLY hard times!

Human beings are their own worst enemy!!!!! More people have been killed because of religious bias and hatred than for any other reason. Read history folks! It doesn't take Albert Einstein to figure out what we should be doing about energy issues. First order of business is to stop OPEC lobbyist from owning our Senators and Congressmen. We've sold ourselves out with a corrupt government process! Wake up Mr and Mrs Taxpayer and demand a better government process.

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#26
In reply to #20

Re: Processing oil shale/profitability.

07/21/2008 10:33 PM

Guest - whoever you are. "...stop OPEC lobbyist from owning our Senators and Congressmen. We've sold ourselves out with a corrupt government process!" I wonder how many of them are the Democrats who are so opposed to producing more of our own oil, maybe some Republicans [in name only] who also oppose it.

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