Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Stakes are Really High

There is a very interesting article in the Durango Herald about oil shale in Western Colorado. The big oil companies are talking about potential recoveries of 1 million barrels of oil per acre.

Shell estimates that its method can wring 1 million barrels of oil out of a single acre of ground. That's more than $40 billion from the three 160-acre leases Shell already owns.

If its demonstration projects work and it wins federal approval to expand its leases to 27 square miles, then it takes a calculator with extra digits to show how much all that oil might be worth.

In the best case, "That's the sort of manageable prize that Shell is looking at from this potential," said Davis. But, she said, Shell has to prove its technology first. It has already produced oil from shale, but now it has to prove it can protect the environment, she said.

When one considers that oil sells for $100 a barrel, this land has the potential to produce $100 million of wealth per acre. That is $2,000 a square foot!

No one is saying what the cost of extraction is, but it almost certainly much higher than simply sinking a well in Saudia Arabia. Even so, the price of oil will only continue to rise, especially if OPEC will no longer be able to meet world demand in 20 years, as some have projected.

The environmentalist extremists are trying to mislead the public as to the stakes:

"I am still fascinated that somebody would spend that amount of money to get something that is so elusive," said Cathy Kay, an oil-shale critic from Western Colorado Congress, based in Grand Junction.

Randy Udall, a renewable-energy advocate from Carbondale, [ and Mark Udall's brother ] wrote a critique of shale's comeback. Measured in amount of energy per ton, oil shale has one-third the energy density of Cap'n Crunch cereal, Udall wrote.

Why can't the Udall brothers and cousins, Tom, Randy, and Mark ever be truthful with the public? No one is talking about mining the oil shale, so his energy density statistic has as much value as a similar claim about the energy density of the sand and rock over a conventional oil well. Randy Udall's own propaganda piece admits that Shell has produced 2,000 barrels of oil from a test plot the "size of a 3 car garage."

2000 barrels of oil is a lot of Cap'n Crunch cereal. Maybe we can get Mark Udall, Ken Salizar, or even Randy Udall to tell us how high that stack would be, spread over an area the size of a 3 car garage. Care to bet the FAA would require strobe lights on that stack of cereal?

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