Colorado Oil Shale Symposium Highlights Enefit, Other Worldwide Projects
|Several oil shale projects around the world are on track to achieve commercial-scale production in the near future, creating a sense of eager anticipation for the industry, attendees heard at the 33rd Oil Shale Symposium, held in mid-October at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.|
|Projects in Estonia, Australia, Brazil and the United States are all close to major milestones that promise to significantly increase the amount of oil that is produced from oil shale, representatives of several companies said. These include Enefit’s new liquid fuels plant in Estonia that is in the latter stages of “hot commissioning,” recently running at 85 percent of its design capacity.
David Argyle, who is leading the development of the Irati Energy project in southern Brazil, said that, from a financier’s point of view, one new successful oil shale project will “change the tenor of the sector overnight.” He suggested that development is imminent.
In addition to the Enefit280 plant in Estonia, QER’s new pilot plant in Australia and Red Leaf Resource’s project in eastern Utah are due to begin operations in the next year. Enefit’s Utah project is in the environmental review and permitting phase and is several years from starting production.
An interesting note about all of the projects that are progressing relatively quickly to production is that they involve surface mining and processing, rather than in situ extraction. Just a week before the Oil Shale Symposium, Royal Dutch Shell announced that it will close its Mahogany Research Project in western Colorado. This follows on Chevron’s closure of its in situ project a year ago.
In both cases, the companies said the decisions were part of portfolio-wide reassessments and not a repudiation of oil shale as an energy source. Shell, in fact, said it will continue research in Canada and Jordan and both Shell and Chevron plan to retain their private oil shale holdings in the US. Several other in situ research and development projects are continuing in western Colorado as well.
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