As a registered voter in the state of Colorado, I have been getting all sorts of things in the mail – one of which commented on the expiration of a moratorium on exploring oil shale in our happy state, but oddly enough it was from a national organization.
So far as I gather, and correct me if I’m wrong, theoretically there is a huge amount of oil in Colorado, stored safely away in shale deposits – deposited long ago, when the ocean coasts dominated the landscape of our now-semi-arid state.
The issue is that we (the U.S.) have been importing ~70 % of our oil from elsewhere and it is making us do strange things in regard to foreign policyâ€¦ I’d like to see the U.S. standing on its own two feet someday soon-especially in regard to all the awful things happening to the stock market and banks lately. Using these oil shale reserves would also potentially contribute to the state’s economy: All good and wonderful, right? I know that CSM has been doing a bit of research in the area, and I am wondering what sorts of improved technology is out there:
The current technique of extraction is to:
1) Set a frozen perimeter (with some liquid that hopefully won’t cause huge environmental issues down the road, aka: water);
2) Heat up the shale with some fluid (same as above);
3) Break the oil from the cemented tiny shale particles and send it off for processing.
This technique sounds immensely inefficient, hugely wasteful, and not at all helpful in the reduction of energy demands for that small amount of crude to help change the status quo. Am I missing something? To me, the only way for this system to work would be if a considerable amount of renewable energy were used for the water heating/cooling and whatever else they need out there in the field.