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View Diary: Oil Shale-the energy density of a tater tot (60 comments)

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  •  more source material- (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VA Gal, kurt, RosyFinch, Neon Vincent, SciVo, Wyote

    here is information from the BLM:

    Both mining and processing of oil shale involve a variety of environmental impacts, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of mined land, disposal of spent shale, use of water resources, and impacts on air and water quality. The development of a commercial oil shale industry in the United States would also have significant social and economic impacts on local communities.

    also, from the above-

    Of special concern in the relatively arid western United States is the large amount of water required for oil shale processing; currently, oil shale extraction and processing require several barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced, though some of the water can be recycled.

    Here's an excerpt from an article from the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent:

    Meeting the nation's energy needs also is threatening water quality in the region, speakers said Friday at a seminar in Grand Junction on energy development's impacts on water. The seminar was organized by the Colorado River District, based in Glenwood Springs.

    It focused on possible oil shale development, which is considered to be an elephant in the room when it comes to planning for Colorado's future needs.

    ...If full production occurred, that would require additional withdrawals of water from the Colorado and other rivers in western Colorado, said Cathy Wilson, who has studied the oil shale industry's water needs for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Her study found that the White River in northwest Colorado might be able to support production of 500,000 barrels of oil per day, but only with creation of 16,000 acre feet of new water storage to provide backup during dry years.

    She said it remains unclear how much water might be needed to do "in-situ" oil shale production. That process, which is under research by Shell, involves heating shale underground and pumping oil to the surface, rather than mining the shale and then heating it to produce oil.

    Wilson's forecasts for water needs project that it would take 105 to 315 million gallons per day to produce 2.5 million barrels of oil per day from shale. However, an industry that size also would result in a regional population growth of 433,000 people, who would require another 58 million gallons per day.

    •  Excellent diary - recommended (7+ / 0-)

      Hunters in the Piceance basin do not want the land torn up to develop oil shale. Formerly Republican westerners are increasingly angry about the damage caused by natural gas drilling. Oil shale would be even more damaging if extraction is attempted.

      Reckless energy development in the west is turning many westerners against the Republican party.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Jul 27, 2008 at 01:12:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Math doesn't work out. (0+ / 0-)
      2.5 million barrels is 105 million gallons.  So, that's 105-315 million gallons of water to every 105 million gallons of oil: that's 1-3 barrels of water per barrel of oil, not 4-8.

      Also, water is not really as limiting as you may be thinking when this much money is involved.  Water that can be taken from the Colorado, for example, is limited because of the river's downstream needs; it's already spoken for.  California takes most of it.  But you could replace California's offset easily.  Desalnization is "expensive", at ~$3 for 1000 gallons.  Even if we assume 8 barrels of water per 1 barrel of oil, rather than 1-3, that's 336 gallons of water per barrel of oil, i.e., $1's worth.  Tack another dollar onto the cost of each barrel of oil to build and operate the desalinization plants in California to free up more Colorado River water.  Is that really that limiting?  Heck, they could even argue to eliminate the Glen Canyon dam, a long dream of many environmental groups, by building power plants to replace the power that it generates, thus freeing up the water that is currently wasted to evaporation, thus meeting the Colorado River's downstream committments and freeing upstream usage.  They could build thousands-of-miles-long water pipelines.  There's a dozen ways they could approach this.  When you can sell oil for so much, it's hard for water to ever be a financial limit.  Money talks.

      We need to migrate our transportation system to renewables, but we need to make sure that we're making proper arguments in the process  :P  Claiming "there's not enough water for it to work" is not going to fly.  If Shell actually believed that, they wouldn't be putting all this money into shale in the same way they did to bitumen (and people laughed about their bitumen projects, saying they'd never work... who's laughing now?)

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