Environmental issues temporarily block Uinta Basin oil shale projectJune 26, 2012
Regular readers know that EnerGeoPolitics has been following efforts to develop oil shale for a long time. The engineering problems seem to be nearly solved, but environmental issues may prove to be a more difficult obstacle to surmount.
Red Leaf Resources is the developer of an innovative process that turns kerogen, commonly known as oil shale, into petroleum without the use of vast amounts of water (other kerogen processing technologies use as much as three gallons of water to produce a single barrel of oil). The EcoShale process, if successful and cost effective, would revolutionize the world energy picture – the Green River formation alone has recoverable reserves estimated to be triple those of Saudi Arabia, and that is just one of many shale formations around the world.
In April, Red Leaf obtained a permit to begin mining and recovering kerogen in a Uinta Basin section of the Green River formation. However, late yesterday that permit was halted after an appeal from western US environmental group Living Rivers, which fears possible water contamination from the project. Red Leaf appears to have agreed to the halt (which is just a hold, not a revocation). Although there has been no comment from Red Leaf officials, reports are that they agreed to provide more data for analysis.
Oil shale has been just out of reach for decades, but the EcoShale technology appears to be the best hope ever of turning the resource from merely theoretical to profitable. Accessing this resource is so important that it is crucial that we cross every “t” and dot every “i” early in the process, in order to make sure we can fully exploit it for decades to come. Stay tuned for more details.