The Truth About Oil

Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2009, at 10:39 PM
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  • Sam,

    more good links to learn the truth about untapped oil in America:

    In their zeal to blurt out, and show alledged intellectual prowess, the nutty liberals miss the facts again. You said that the untapped reserves could power America for 400 years. If you want to include the rest of the world, that would mean less years. Even an intellectual giant should be able to figure out that much. Sometimes liberals are at a disadvantage when there is no anti-American Marxist professor to go run to for answers in the middle of the night. I still have a hard time understanding liberals pure hatred of their own country, hatred of profit, hatred of industry, hatred of common sense, hatred of decency. These liberals remind me of "Boxer" the great work horse in Orwell's novel, Animal Farm. They will work and work to become slaves, and when the rulers are through with them, they'll be sent to the glue factory.

    -- Posted by RMontana on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 1:44 AM
  • "This means that any investments based on oil shale's future are significantly speculative and long-term."

    Couldn't the same be said for wind, solar, biofuels, hydrogen or any other unconventional energy source that lacks the necessary infrastructure this nation needs?

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 11:09 AM
  • This seems like quite the straw man argument you are putting forth.

    We liberals aren't saying that we need to be off oil tomorrow. Or next year, or even in the next decade. What we want is for more emphasis to be put on conservation (using energy responsibly) and the creation of green (i.e. practically limitless) energy technologies. We're not asking you to put up a windmill at your house. We're not asking for you to make your truck run on biofuels tomorrow.

    Listening to your rhetoric (and the rhetoric of many on the right), gives me the impression that you think we liberals want to cut off your oil supply now, and force you to live some sort of meager existence with solar panels on your roof. I can assure you that is not the case. We simply want to accelerate the exploration and expansion of green technology, while not investing too many more resources into fossil fuels.

    (of course, I'm sure you could point to a few people on the left who want everyone to live without using oil immediately. I mean, each side has it's crazy unreasonable people, right?)

    And as far as the oil independence things goes. I think you might realize this, but I want to make it clear. If we allow drilling in ANWAR, or off the coasts, or the production of oil from shale, it's not "OUR" oil. That is to say, it wouldn't belong to the people of the United States. Oil is traded on the international commodities market. And while it would be an advantage strategically and economically, that oil wouldn't necessarily "belong" to us. It would be sold TO us for the market value (on the international market).

    And for the record, as a liberal, I have no problem with oil companies earning profits. Even HUGE profits. I have a problem when they are earning world-record profits while we were paying $4 a gallon for gas. (and by "I have a problem", I don't mean I want to see oil executives fired or flayed alive. I mean that we should tax their windfall profits more).

    And as far as global warming goes, I know we disagree. But I prefer to believe the published opinions of national/international scientific bodies. And again, not one of them has published a dissenting opinion on global warming. I appreciate that you think that they're all conspiring to destroy America (or that you know better than them), but I find that to be a bit far fetched.

    And I might add, about oil from shale production, that the article you cited states that "a 2005 RAND Corporation study that suggests a commercially viable means of extracting oil from shale may be at least 12 years off, if ever. Shell, a leader in the research effort for the past 25 years, has not sold a single barrel of fuel from shale."

    So, it's a technology that potentially holds the promise of a HUGE energy supply. It's not currently viable as an energy source, but it might be in the near future (or it might not be). The technology just needs to be researched and perfected a bit before we can use it as a dependable energy resource.

    The above statement sounds really familiar. I could swear I've said the exact same kind of things about green energy...

    -- Posted by jhat on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 11:12 AM
  • And seriously, stop with the "liberals hate America" garbage.

    Please be adult enough to recognize that we ALL want America to prosper, we just have different ideas about how that should be accomplished, and different vision of the world we want to live in.

    And the same thing goes for any liberal on this site who would say "conservatives hate America". Grow up.

    -- Posted by jhat on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 11:15 AM
  • The problem with Bakken isn't how much oil, but how do we extract it. Last I knew the technology was close but not there yet.

    It seems we all agree that oil is going to run out sometime; the question is when?

    The other question is how long will it take to develop/discover a new energy source?

    I don't exactly care when oil is going to run out. Personally, I'm not sure we have an precise answer.

    What I do know is that it could take years to develop/discover a new energy source that can replace oil.

    Things have a tendency to get more efficient as technology is developed. Look at the airplane, There's planes longer then the Wright Brothers first flight and can take off from Rome and land at Los Angeles or New York.

    Automobiles get much better gas millage and are faster then when they first came out.

    Then look at the tools we have today, hammers are better now then they were in the stone age.

    All of the changes have come over time while the things were being used.

    There is new solar power cells that are cheaper, thinner, and produce more energy coming out then the bulky ones we're used to seeing. We're also finding better places to put turbines then we have them now, such as underwater.

    Nuclear power is becoming more efficient and cheaper, look at the small nuclear power generators that was posted a couple months ago.

    Bottom line is we have to start somewhere at sometime. Why not start working on our problems now rather then have our kids, grand kids, great grand kids etc. say you knew it was coming and you didn't do a **** thing.

    we need a comprehensive energy plan that does not rely on just oil, gas, coal, and what little nuclear we have.

    The goal is to make our grand kids and great grand kids lives better right? Lets help them solve a potential energy problem. Hell, maybe we'll figure something out that's considerably cheaper then what we have now and save some money before they take over.

    -- Posted by npwinder on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 1:30 PM
  • The epicenter for Colorado Oil Shale is PARACHUTE.

    Any long term resident of Parachute and the entire county can advise all the experts regarding the problems extracting usable barrels of oil from that shale.

    There is a lot of it. And a huge percentage of that oil shale is going to be harder to extract than the "moly" ore at Climax when I was in and out of that upside down mine atop the Mosquitos.

    For the simple reason, it lies under the Colorado Western Slope mountains -- and by under, the experts mean "WAY UNDER."

    In the meantime, the Permian Basin is pumping out.

    East Texas and most of Oklahoma are down to "stripper" production, where most land owners want the wells shut down, plugged back to water and capped until they can start pumping irrigation water from those bores.

    Some early offshore Gulf holes are "bled out."

    Some Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms are just about dry.

    There may be 400 years of current U.S. needs under Western Colorado. It may require 500 years to get most of that shale to the surface,

    Regardless, at some point -- 50 years or 500 years -- oil for fuel, lubricants or chemicals will be gone.

    By that time, little coal will remain.

    Technology continues to improve toward extracting more of the oil in the producing strata, but there are still many regions where engineers don't yet know how to extract more than a relatively small percentage of the deposits.

    Unfortunately, when the industry reports "X" millions or billions of barrels in a particular reserve -- They carefully avoid reporting how much of that reserve can actually be pumped to the surface.

    I will admit a bias regarding the ethics of oil men. I've seen too many of them cut open gates and drive their big Packards, LaSalles, Caddilacs and Imperials onto fully posted ranches, jump out with rifles or shotguns and start blazing away at anything that moved. Including cattle and horses.

    1946 - A rancher liquidated a large (380 cows and bulls) grade cow herd and buying purebred beef animals to rebuild upon. Within 30 days, oil men trespassing and knocking "Posted-No Trespassing" signs from posts along the road -- killed two cows which were bought with the income from 40 grade animals.

    That rancher would have suffered a huge hit except for a neighbor spotting the open gate and driving four miles to report the trespass.

    As it was, the oil men were eager to threaten the rancher and his son, until they discovered distributor caps and ignition wires were no longer on their luxury autos.

    They were attempting to negotiate an understanding when two deputies from the county sheriff arrived.

    They bought two purebred cows' carcasses, with a profit for the rancher, saw their autos impounded, along with some expensive rifles.

    Warned, all the ranchers in that area began patrolling their boundary fences. Despite the severe losses being reported by those already caught, three to four trespassing oil-man hunter bands were halted, cited and lost cars and guns every week in that county during and after hunting season.

    Consider that reality and understand this refugee from the land has a reason for never trusting an oil man, and that was a half century before ENRON.

    Our reality -- How can you tell an oil man is lying?


    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 6:08 PM
  • it would seem to me that the mere fact that we are talking about shale oil and how to get it tell us that oil is a resource with cap. Peak oil must be a fact or we would not be disscussing shale oil

    -- Posted by president obama on Wed, Nov 4, 2009, at 8:01 PM
  • Alternative energy sources -- primarily electrical generation -- are alredy economically practical.

    A power grid to connect the High Plains Wind Farm proposed by Boone Pickens will eventually be reality. When that Wind Farm and others extending from the Canadian Prairies of Alberta and Manitoba, the offshore sites being proposed, eventually sites such as the Gobi Desert, the eastern slope of the Sierra and Cascades, higher ridgelines of New Mexico and Arizona and most of the Intermountain Basin -- Wind Generation will be reality.

    With development of the "thin film spray-on" technique for photo voltaic silicon wafers about 20 years back -- Solar generation became a truly affordable reality.

    Compressed Natural Gas is a clean alternative to diesel.

    Some are suggesting technology converting oil shale and deep reserves of tar sands to natural gas within the strata is conceivably more economical than mining those deposits and bringing them to the surface.

    But regardless -- Eventually fossil fuel reserves will be exhausted. That resource is also important as a provider of chemicals and lubricants.

    Solar generation and wind power can developed in near barren and totally barren regions.[Utah's Slick Rock country, southwestern and Mexican deserts.

    The person or persons who develop(s) more efficient electrical transmission technology is hopefully walking around today.

    Submarine reversing turbines are being used today.

    These could be located within every coastal inlet and estuary, any reasonably fast moving stream, or anywhere there is enough natural movement of water to produce.

    The industry already has roof mounted photo voltaic which will fully supply a 35-foot travel trailer or even a 16 X 84' mobile home. A big rig, particularly those with big dry boxes and "Reefers" can eliminate electrical hookups for truckers, RV Lifestylers, etc.

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 12:37 AM
  • I think we should look more into Algae Oil production.

    -- Posted by npwinder on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 9:16 AM
  • It seems to me that when we first started drilling for oil we had similar difficulty and learned as we went along. Same thing would apply with shale. Of course we can wait til we're freezing in the dark like the lunatic fringe would like.

    -- Posted by Dinasaur on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 11:52 AM
  • I think right now drilling for shale oil is the oil companies court. It appears they are trying to figure out if its profitable or not. It doesn't matter how much oil is left, if its not profitable, they wont do it.

    -- Posted by npwinder on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 1:19 PM
  • Hey Winder,

    You don't drill for Colorado oil shale.

    You mine it -- and a deposit outcropping at Parachute can be two miles deep at Eagle, three miles deep at Minturn and four miles down at Vail Pass. Or heading west, it disappears beneath Fruita.

    The mine can follow the shale north from the mine mouth and discover the shale ends in a rock wall.

    How many feet do they dig and in which direction to get back into the shale?

    Or they can push a tunnel five miles in through the shale to discover it becomes a thin ribbon six inches deep and of no value.

    Drive up to Parachute and talk to some of the people who were in those holes.

    Plus developing shale presents another problem. How do you breath in a tight hole with all those petroleum fumes?

    Every miner wears a space suit hooked to air hoses. But it takes 30 minutes to get suited up and check equipment, two hours to get to the working face -- with about four hours maximum working in that equipment and time to get out. Which means a new crew is preparing to enter at all times, a tired crew is getting off and the payroll is huge.

    Plus, when you are moving millions of tons of shale via ore cars four to ten miles back to the surface -- you need a looped rail system, with new rails being built and old lines being moved.

    Oil shale is not a cure. Quite possibly the same investment in other sustainable energy results would produce better short term results and profits, while in the long term the oil shale costs keep climbing.

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Thu, Nov 5, 2009, at 5:30 PM
  • Oil shale does NOT have to be MINED to be produced. This is the FIRST problem many of you have, you are WRONG. Not mining oil shale allows much MORE of it to be accessed profitably, this is the SECOND problem many of you have, this brings another 800 billion bbls to bear, and many more years of American usage, perhaps 100's of years.

    Mileage WILL get better over time, so America, which peaked at 20million bbls/day but is now below 18mbbls/d will go lower still, meaning we WILL last longer with less oil, hundreds of years longer IF we are allowed to access our valuable local resources. Shell is signing contracts with the Jordanian government among others to use their ICP process there. They are VERY likely to give up in the United States, not because it doesn't work but because the NIMBYS here won't let them get it out of the ground in a reasonable manner and Salazar is trying to change the rules that had already been agreed to. Jordan is MORE than happy to let them get it out of THEIR ground though, as are others. Yet more American dollars going to yet more middle eastern countries that hate us.

    Is the author of this article correct across the board in everything he says? Maybe not, but he's darn close on a lot of it.

    -- Posted by haveaclue on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 7:22 PM
  • *

    haveaclue - while in situ retorting shows promise, it is still in the experimental stage with numerous technological issues standing the way. Significant danger of ground water contamination must be solved, and the first commercial production facility may be ready for production by 2023 if current roadblocks can be overcome AND crude prices stay high.

    What few people know about this type of extraction is the startup costs involved and what must be accomplished to get 'er done so to speak.

    Oil shale must be heated underground to temperatures in the 650 to 700f, typically using electricity, over a period of time from 18 to 24 months before production can begin in the first place. Numerous wells must be drilled , many to freeze the ground around the shale deposit being worked to a temperature of -60f to "fence in" the production area.

    I guess you could ask the "NIMBYS" how they feel about past resource extraction in a town like Picher, OK, but the town is no more thanks to wholesale mineral extraction. I think some attention to environmental concerns should be taken into consideration, but if you don't care about private property rights then it doesn't matter.

    In my opinion, current regulations of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management requiring that any mineral production activity on leased Federal lands also produce any secondary minerals found in the same deposit must be changed. On Federal oil shale lands, deposits of nahcolite (a naturally occurring form of baking soda) are intermixed with the oil shales. Relative to oil and other petroleum products, nahcolite is a low-value commodity, and its price would fall even further if its production increased significantly. Thus, co-production of nahcolite could increase the cost of producing oil shale significantly, while providing little revenue in return.

    Not considered so far in this discussion is the amount of energy and it's source required to extract the shale oil using in situ retorting. It will be significant.

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Sat, Nov 7, 2009, at 11:23 PM
  • Sam, it is a possibility don't you think, that liberals do not want energy production in fly over states. It seems apparent that libs like power and money concentrated in mega cities where they can control both. The last thing liberals want is any power or wealth in the hands of rednecks in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, or North Dakota. They would rather chew up thousands of acres with lousy windmills and billions of dollars convincing us to burn food for energy. I am not making this up. Liberals think progressive energy policy is burn food for energy. I know it is nutty, but that is the way they think. Also Sam, you made a point that energy policy for liberals is political. It sure as hell is.

    -- Posted by RMontana on Sun, Nov 8, 2009, at 11:21 AM
  • *

    RMontana - Do you really think that the "power and money" that comes from shale deposits will actually stay in the areas being developed?

    If we are to believe the history lessons of wholesale mineral extraction and unmitigated environmental damage, I'm curious about your feelings about what happens when the "stuff" runs out?

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Mon, Nov 9, 2009, at 3:09 PM
  • I remember running out of oil in 1978...Ya right...No cheaper place to store it than where it is....It only takes two days to wash over a hole that has been drilled...P.S. oil has always come oil shale....

    -- Posted by orville on Tue, Nov 10, 2009, at 8:05 PM
  • The shale production problems reminds one of the San Ardo "tar crude" field near Paso Robles (upper Salinas Valley in Central California).

    Energy required to get the stuff above ground and keep it heated to pump to the tanker hookup off the San Luis Obispo coast south of Hearst's San Simeon -- meant minimal profits from the beginning and even with higher crude prices, still minimal profits.

    Quite comparable to the immense amount of energy available just for tapping into a couple of minor stars -- such as our Sun.

    Ah, but how do we ship it down here.

    Quite simple, expand solar generation with photo-voltaic and simple hot water collectors.

    Every roof covered with collectors.

    85-90% of the space used for photo-voltaic, with the installation replacing conventional roofing and 10-15% used for hot water collectors.

    A serious possibility -- extend the collectors' area beyond exterior building walls by five to 20 per cent, for greater yield.

    While the U.S. is debating. China is expanding roof mounted solar generation as fast as possible.

    Soon they will be exporting equipment to people who can pay for the technology -- UAE, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Brazil, Argentina, et al.

    China will gladly accept food, minerals and other usable barter. Sand being the primary ingredient for photo-voltaic, China has the material for processing in abundance.

    So do we, except we prefer to buy meth, crack, pot, coke and horse from the Mexican drug cartels.

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Sat, Nov 14, 2009, at 5:27 PM
  • What do you do when you have large hail?

    -- Posted by Chunky Peanut Butter on Fri, Nov 20, 2009, at 11:11 PM
  • -- Posted by Chunky Peanut Butter on Sat, Nov 21, 2009, at 6:53 AM
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