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

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  •  We'll see. (0+ / 0-)

    Shell, as I mentioned, is doing the best job of working with area communities--but they still have LOOONG way to go in this regard.  

    The issue isn't whether some oil shale extraction will happen--in my mind--its how much, how quick, and how much local communities and people get rolled.  

    The idea that it will produce the amounts held out by Rethugs, replacing Saudi Arabia's reserves by a factory of 4 or 6 times, I do have trouble with.  I think, foremost, that it is not realistic for a number of reasons, and secondly that it would be devastating to the environment.  

    To extract that amount of oil from shale, t would basically turn over a million acres into a wasteland.  Even Shell's technology requires 100% ground disturbance over the resource being exploited. Add in water, air pollution, loss of habitat, and the costs climb exponentially.  Its becoming increasingly hard for companies to keep those costs external to their balance sheets (which I think is a good thing).

    •  I think we agree (0+ / 0-)

      Any time you have a large energy input to actually extract a usable fuel, the economics aren't going to be great.  Ethanol is the current case in point.  The way I look at it, if you had surplus power (say from a mythical fusion reactor), then you can obviously do this economically to make a hydrocarbon feed stock or transportable liquid fuel.  

      Until you have that supply of power, you are either buying power at the current high wholesale rate or you are burning a portion of your product to drive the process which kills your economics.  

      Evaluating reserves is always tricky especially because people don't always like to let on.  Just talking about straight energy, do you think there is currently more in the ground in Saudi Arabia or in these shale and tar sand reserves.  I haven't looked closely enough at it to have a well thought out opinion on that.

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