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In the American west: An ocean of oil
Hot Air ^ | 7:31 pm on May 13, 2012 | Jazz Shaw

Posted on 05/13/2012 7:36:35 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

In case you missed it – and you very well might have, since the media was too busy talking about gay marriage to be bothered – a rather remarkable thing happened in Washington this week. An auditor from the GAO testified before the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on the subject of energy. But instead of hearing about how horrible things are, she calmly delivered something of a bombshell.

“The Green River Formation–an assemblage of over 1,000 feet of sedimentary rocks that lie beneath parts of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming–contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale,”Anu K. Mittal, the GAO’s director of natural resources and environment said in written testimony submitted to the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

“USGS estimates that the Green River Formation contains about 3 trillion barrels of oil, and about half of this may be recoverable, depending on available technology and economic conditions,” Mittal testified.

“The Rand Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that 30 to 60 percent of the oil shale in the Green River Formation can be recovered,” Mittal told the subcommittee. “At the midpoint of this estimate, almost half of the 3 trillion barrels of oil would be recoverable. This is an amount about equal to the entire world’s proven oil reserves.”

Read those last two sentences again and think about it for a moment. The largest remaining reserves of oil on the planet are not in Saudi Arabia or buried under the frozen steppes of the former Soviet Union. They’re here in the United States. Combined with the massive resources in western Canada, that means that North America is the King of Oil for the future. But what – if anything – will we do about it?

The vast majority of this supply is shale oil, a form which was essentially useless to us only a few decades ago, but now we know how to get it. And if you want to avoid ripping up the entire landscape, that means horizontal drilling and fracking. Unfortunately for us, this is one of those rare areas where the government actually can make a difference, for better or worse. The Obama administration continues to claim that they are pursuing an “all of the above” energy policy, but at the same time they are jumping in with new regulations regarding fracking.

If we move forward on this aggressively, the industry can safely access these resources which would significantly strengthen our hand on the international stage. But with the wrong approach, Washington could hog tie energy developers with excessive, expensive regulations or shut the entire process down by failing to issue permits to develop resources on these federal lands.

The public disclosure of these reserves is good news, but it’s only the beginning. And while I feel some trepidation in saying it, I’m afraid the ball is in Barack Obama’s court.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: Colorado; US: Utah
KEYWORDS: anwr; energy; keystonexl; opec
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

You have to be careful when you are talking about shale oil because some of it is locked up so tight in its source rock it requires heating to extract it. I believe the oil in Colorado is this sort and if so it will be very much more expensive than the shale oil being recovered in the bakken and other shale formations.


51 posted on 05/14/2012 1:04:33 AM PDT by saganite (What happens to taglines? Is there a termination date?)
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To: familyop
“For example, efforts of at least some uranium companies to test drill in some of the most sparsely populated counties in Colorado over the past few years have been stopped.”

I well recall the thriving uranium mining that was being undertaken at Jeffery City, WY in the early 1980s. Things were booming until Ten Mile Island and Jane Fonda brought it all down almost overnight. I last saw Jeffery City a few years ago and it was dead and a modern ghost town.

52 posted on 05/14/2012 1:06:27 AM PDT by Sea Parrot (I'll be a nice to you as you'll let me be, or as mean as you make me be.)
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To: Sea Parrot

” using present horizontal drilling and fracking technology shale oil is now being produced around the world.”

I believe you are confusing “shale oil” with “oil shale”. “Oil shale” is kerogen. “shale oil” is crude oil that occurs in tight shale formations that is now being produced with horizontal drilling and stage fracking techniques.

I am not a geologist, but I am told that most oil was formed in shales which are rich in organic material, then over millions of years the oil migrated to sandstones and fractured limestones that were more porous and therefore easier to produce. That is what is referred to now as conventional oil that has been produced since Drakes well of 1859.

Only recently have we been able to economically been able to produce from the tight shales. This is what is going on now in the Balken shale of North Dakota and Montana as wel as the Eagle Ford shale in South Texas.

The Green River formation is an entirely different animal.


53 posted on 05/14/2012 3:02:24 AM PDT by Okieshooter
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To: Okieshooter

Well, I guess the future is here. The oil of the “future” is being cracked today from the Texas Eagleford in several refineries here in Texas.

Although it is proving to be a challenge since it is a lighter crude and coking over equipment resulting in more turn arounds.

Also old time process operators are having to relearn and change their operating parameters and companies are having to retrofit equipment (add preheaters), it is being done.


54 posted on 05/14/2012 3:03:58 AM PDT by eartick (Been to the line in the sand and liked it)
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To: eartick

“Well, I guess the future is here. The oil of the “future” is being cracked today from the Texas Eagleford in several refineries here in Texas.”

Listen carefully and I will repeat. The Eagleford shale oil is not the same thing as the kerogen found in the Green River formation.


55 posted on 05/14/2012 3:41:03 AM PDT by Okieshooter
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Lazamataz; LS; blam; SAJ

Fracking is already saving the entire U.S. economy. Watch and see.


56 posted on 05/14/2012 3:45:29 AM PDT by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: eartick

I wish they would just drop the terms “shale oil” and “oil shale. “ it creates so much confusion, even I am confused sometimes and I understand the difference,

They should just refer to it as crude oil or kerogen depending on which it is.


57 posted on 05/14/2012 3:50:43 AM PDT by Okieshooter
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To: balch3

getting at the oil would mean strip mining most of the western half of Wyoming, as well as large sections of Colorado and Utah

You’re going to have to present some facts as to why this shale would have to be strip mined. You mine sands not shale. There have been over 3,000 wells drilled in the basin and no mining that I am aware of.
There are real concerns in dealing with the water table and other issues in the extraction process, but technology will eventually overcome these concerns.


58 posted on 05/14/2012 3:51:02 AM PDT by Recon Dad (Gas & Petroleum Junkie)
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To: Southack

“Fracking is already saving the entire U.S. economy. Watch and see.”

I agree, especially for natural gas production, but the wackos are doing their damnedest to shut it down.


59 posted on 05/14/2012 3:56:19 AM PDT by Okieshooter
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To: balch3

I stand corrected on the surface mining portion of my post. I did some research on it and found that it is one of the methods of extraction for shale as well as sand formations.
I did find that in the case of Green River Basin drilling and injecting heat seems to be the method of extraction.


60 posted on 05/14/2012 4:12:35 AM PDT by Recon Dad (Gas & Petroleum Junkie)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

ping


61 posted on 05/14/2012 4:13:55 AM PDT by Dusty Road
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To: HiTech RedNeck
" Tag the fracking liquid with short lived radioactive tracers, like the same kind of radioiodine used in medical procedures."

Short half-lives won't last long enough to trace the flow. We're talking feet per year (or maybe inches per year.

"Or some harmless chemical substance not found in nature. Then get samples of the water table water to check for the tracers’ presence."

Fluorocarbons. Soluble in the oil. Available in both liquid and gaseous types. Detectable at incredibly low concentrations with electron capture detectors. And harmless to the environment.

62 posted on 05/14/2012 4:55:46 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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To: balch3; Recon Dad

Welcome to the Mahogany Research Project
http://www.shell.us/home/content/usa/aboutshell/projects_locations/mahogany/

For decades, energy companies have attempted to unlock the large, domestic oil shale resources of northwestern Colorado’s Piceance (pronounced “Pee-ance”) Basin. For more than a quarter of a century, Shell has conducted laboratory and field research on its promising, In situ (in-ground) Conversion Process to recover oil and gas.


63 posted on 05/14/2012 4:55:46 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Bernard Marx
a big recovery plant there back in the 1970s but the project fizzled for technological reasons

Not technological reasons, 100% due to economics. At that time, cheaper oil was available to meet demand, once the OPEC embargo had ended.

64 posted on 05/14/2012 4:59:50 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: djf

Yes, it is amazing.
However, one must consider the energy required to produce enough heat to ‘boil the oil out of rock’.


65 posted on 05/14/2012 5:28:15 AM PDT by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: thackney


Shell carried out a small field test known as the Mahogany Demonstration Project South on its private property in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, using an in-ground heating process to recover oil and gas from the shale formation.

Field results from past research, as evident in the MDP Research Chart, have matched our predictions, giving our engineers confidence in the In situ Conversion Process.

On only a 30 x 40 foot testing area, Shell successfully recovered 1,700 barrels of high quality light oil plus associated gas from shallower, less-concentrated oil shale layers. Our research to date has demonstrated that our In situ Conversion Process (ICP) works technically on a small scale - what remains is to prove it can work commercially.

Shell will continue to set a high industry standard for public participation, environmental protection and community enhancement in an effort to ensure oil shale is done the right way.

We aim to advance the technology systematically to the point at which an application could be made to convert the 160-acre RD&D tracts to commercial leases.  A commercial decision would be middle of the next decade and possibly later depending on the sequence and outcome of research activities.”

Doesn’t look like we will be producing oil there very soon.


66 posted on 05/14/2012 5:29:07 AM PDT by Okieshooter
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To: Lorianne
I have several nice specimens of Green River shale, (Mahogany Beds), with insect fossils in them, collected in Colorado and Utah at the surface.

The formation is discontinuous, lacustrine in origin, and outcrops extensively in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. "Mining" that is commonly proposed is open pit mining. Fish fossils from the Green RIver Formation are well known as well.

Granted, with the formation outcropping (at the surface), the base of a full section could be 1000 feet down, but thermal maturity in basins with ordinary heat flow is attained at roughly 9,000 ft. (or more) of burial. without magmatic involvement.

(In much of the oil industry "very deep" is in excess of 15,000 ft.)

The Green River oil is trapped in the non-interconnected pore space in the shale, and is not subjected to sufficient lithostatic pressure from overlying formations (which are relatively thin or absent for most of the areal extent of the formation) to migrate out of the shale.

That's good news and bad news.

The good part is that it is a near-surface resource if and when economical extraction methods are devised. The bad news is that even the horizontal drilling and fracking methods used in the Bakken Formation or the Marcellus Shale (for example) won't get the job done.

The Parachute, CO plant relied on cooking the oil out of mined shale. Others (Shell, iirc) have tried cooking the oil in situ and forcing it into collector wells from a central heated wellbore. Neither method has proven to be economical, both have their problems, and the EPA would be all over either process like white on rice, especially on Federal Land.

The oil is there, but we need a better way to extract it.

67 posted on 05/14/2012 5:32:24 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: Okieshooter
Doesn’t look like we will be producing oil there very soon.

Since the Feds will not give commercial permits, only R&D sized permits, no we won't.

68 posted on 05/14/2012 5:38:47 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Lorianne

Well, takes energy just to run a drill to get down to it in the first place. Nuthin us free!


69 posted on 05/14/2012 5:43:59 AM PDT by djf ("There are more old drunkards than old doctors." - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: Smokin' Joe
Others (Shell, iirc) have tried cooking the oil in situ and forcing it into collector wells from a central heated wellbore. Neither method has proven to be economical

That would depend upon the price of the energy used as input and the energy output value.

What is the price difference per million BTU of Natural Gas versus light, sweet oil today?

On page 4-22 below you will find:

ICP requires energy input for heating, freeze wall construction, processing, and maintenance but still generates three to four times as much net energy as it consumes. This energy ratio is very comparable to steam injection in heavy oil projects.

The Shell 2006 report:
http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/co/field_offices/white_river_field/oil_shale.Par.79837.File.dat/OSTPlanofOperations.pdf

70 posted on 05/14/2012 5:48:55 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: djf

Of course.
But one must consider EROI when calculating whether or not it is profitable to drill/mine for energy.

EROI = Energy returned on energy invested.

If you are expending the close tot the same amount of energy to extract/process/ship the oil than the amount of energy extracted, that oil becomes unprofitable to extract ... or super expensive to buy.


71 posted on 05/14/2012 5:53:12 AM PDT by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: Smokin' Joe; Okieshooter

Also see:

Shell: Oil shale blocked
http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/articles/shell_oil_shale_blocked/
August 24, 2011

- - - - - - -

BLM plan takes heat from all directions in oil shale debate
http://www.oilshalefacts.org/press-archive/news-articles/blm-plan-takes-heat-from-all.html
Reprint from: The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
April 28, 2012

...The BLM issued its draft alternatives in February, laying out several options for the modification of a 2008 Bush administration plan to open to development nearly 2.5 million acres of public land containing oil shale and tar sands deposits in the three states.

Among the six alternatives, the agency favors the one that would allow “research, development and demonstration” activities on 553,010 acres, which it says would allow companies to further develop the technology needed to economically and responsibly exploit the resources.

That reduction frustrated Mesa County commissioners who argued production of oil from oil shale is technically and economically possible, and the plan would “essentially dismantle a reasonable and rational oil shale and tar sands program.”


72 posted on 05/14/2012 5:57:06 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Lorianne

Shell reported from their pilot plant project 3~4 times more energy returned from what was consumed.

And when you consider low cost natural gas consumed and a near light, sweet liquid petroleum returned, the economics are even better.

Not as good as energy/cost spent in the Bakken or Eagle Ford today, but profitable if permitted.


73 posted on 05/14/2012 6:09:11 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney
Thanks for the correction! Admittedly, the uneconomical part was at 1980s/90s prices. I was working gas wells in the area when the Parachute facillity shut down.

However, there is no process so simple, no balance sheet so profitable, that the inspired minions in Government cannot figure out a way to make it too difficult or too expensive to continue.

74 posted on 05/14/2012 6:10:33 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Need to stop supporting the Middle East terrorists by buying their oil. However, as long as one of them is in the WH, we’re screwed in that category.


75 posted on 05/14/2012 6:30:34 AM PDT by crosshairs
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To: crosshairs

Has the federal reserve, or the assclowns in power, mortgaged our natural resources as collateral for their massive borrowing from China?

Too tinfoil?


76 posted on 05/14/2012 6:32:54 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: Lorianne

I never suggested we should use more energy getting iy out than we profit by it.

But it might be a viable alternative. Especially since using microwaves “cooks out” the lighter, more volatile compounds and leaves the heavier, more sulfur-laden residues behind.

Thinking-outside-the-box kinda stuff.


77 posted on 05/14/2012 6:33:15 AM PDT by djf ("There are more old drunkards than old doctors." - Benjamin Franklin)
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To: Smokin' Joe; All

I forgot to clarify, ICP = In-situ Conversion Process


78 posted on 05/14/2012 6:34:33 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Bump for later. Will make an excellent FB post to make some liberal’s heads spin.


79 posted on 05/14/2012 6:36:23 AM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

A short video on fracking: http://www.northernoil.com/drilling

Very well done by Northern Oil and Gas


80 posted on 05/14/2012 6:52:16 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (Liberals, at their core, are aggressive & dangerous to everyone around them,)
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To: Wonder Warthog

Fluorocarbons... I can just imagine the greenies screaming “Freon!”


81 posted on 05/14/2012 7:07:34 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Mitt! You're going to have to try harder than that to be "severely conservative" my friend.)
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To: Smokin' Joe

Physically mining the shale and cooking the oil out in batches might be the most energy efficient thing. Heating it in place has the handicap of losing heat to its environment.

If there is a place that solar power (solar cooking in this case) would, er, shine, this might be it. Who cares if it’s “lossy” because the solar would otherwise be wasted on that barren oil shale desert anyhow.


82 posted on 05/14/2012 7:13:30 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Mitt! You're going to have to try harder than that to be "severely conservative" my friend.)
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To: djf

Yes, technology will have to catch up to make it commercially viable at the larger scale.

According the report which this article references, we are not there yet.


83 posted on 05/14/2012 7:21:35 AM PDT by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: thackney

That’s still profitable EROI, but conventional gas wells have 8-10 to one ratios. Even .5:1 would be profitable to someone if there are no other sources ... but not many could afford the end product.

All this means is that the shale oil will be more expensive when it is sold.


84 posted on 05/14/2012 7:25:09 AM PDT by Lorianne (fedgov, taxporkmoney)
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To: thackney
Point taken. But the "technological" issue was producing shale oil at a price competitive with foreign oil. That's still a fly in the ointment, especially with new competition from fracking.

The "in situ" retorting process will probably always be more expensive than other oil-extraction methods and I think environmental concerns will prevent strip-mining for oil shale

85 posted on 05/14/2012 7:30:28 AM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: Sea Parrot

You’re right but it all boils down to how one defines “technology.” I was using the word in the broad sense that shale oil extraction technology is not presently cost-competitive with other methods of oil extraction. I probably should used more specific language.


86 posted on 05/14/2012 7:38:49 AM PDT by Bernard Marx
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To: HiTech RedNeck
"Fluorocarbons... I can just imagine the greenies screaming “Freon!”

Of course. But 99.99% of "greens" are technically illiterate (and probably politically illiterate, too), and don't understand that all fluorocarbons are NOT "ozone layer unfriendly", just a select few.

But the real point is that in order to trace the movement of the oil/gas leaks, one needs a "permanent" type of marker species with unique properties not found in nature, and which can be detected in extremely tiny concentrations.

I can't think of anything else that "fits the bill" as well the fluorocarbons. Other halocarbons won't do, as it turns out that there are natural sources of many of them (chlorine, bromine, and iodine analogs).

87 posted on 05/14/2012 8:25:23 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog
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*


88 posted on 05/14/2012 10:02:23 AM PDT by PMAS (ABO 2012)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

considering that large areas of the Western US has much the same geological makeup of that seen in oil producing countries, I have always believe we were sitting on oil.
And no matter WHAT type or how clean the technology becomes available to extract it, “progressives” will always say no to coal, oil, nuclear, hydro, etc.

If a new type of solar panel was invented that would create cheap energy for the US, they’d shoot that down as well.


89 posted on 05/14/2012 10:27:09 AM PDT by a real Sheila ("Vado a bordo, cazzo!")
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To: Dilbert San Diego

Geothermal is actually viable; it relies on mature tech. It can’t provide everything, however. It’s a marginal player.
Iceland runs on geo. Iceland is small.


90 posted on 05/14/2012 10:40:40 AM PDT by steve8714 (God bless those in uniform, who labor for true peace.)
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To: Sea Parrot
Lovely place, Wamsutter, huh?

I was there in 1948, when the initial drilling was getting underway (my step-dad was a roughneck on a wildcat rig).

I don't recall any murders at the time. But there was a lot of drinking -- there being, literally, nothing else to do. You could work in Wamsutter...and you could sleep. And you could drink. But there was no movie, no TV, no shopping, no fishing, not even any grass to mow.

91 posted on 05/14/2012 2:36:46 PM PDT by okie01
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To: Wonder Warthog

I believe you’re talking about different scenarios that those which are upsetting the greenies today about fracking. They’re going around hollering “water pollution right now” about fracking sites... not “water pollution in 3000 years when the slow creep of the residual far underground fluid towards the water table has finished.” Radioiodine would suffice to show that no, the fluid has not leaked into the water table on the way past it on the way down, and no it hasn’t leaked into it as a result of acute backing-up from pressure operations down below. Once the pressure has been relieved, there is no more practical danger of such cross contamination.


92 posted on 05/14/2012 2:40:39 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Mitt! You're going to have to try harder than that to be "severely conservative" my friend.)
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To: Sea Parrot

“And the key word is “thousands.” Kerogen in nature converts to oil under sufficient pressure and temperature. There is a temperature gradient as depth increases, using present horizontal drilling and fracking technology shale oil is now being produced around the world.”

I am not sure what the temperature gradient is in the Green River area, but I have worked on well up to 24,000 ft deep in the Oklahoma Anadarko Basin and the highest temp we encountered was 260F. That is quite a bit less than the 500 or more required for kerogen conversion, but maybe it would help.

Again the shale oil that is now being produced from shales around the world was exposed to enough temperature and pressure for a long enough time to make the conversion naturally. The Green River just never quite made the grade.

If there was crude oil (not kerogen) in the Green River formation at deeper depths we would already know about it. I am not sure what the thickness of the formation is, but I am sure they have drilled though it.


93 posted on 05/14/2012 3:05:39 PM PDT by Okieshooter
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To: okie01
Pretty good goat (antelope) hunting and if drawn, elk in the sage brush is also pretty good. Bunnies and sage hens, good prairie dog shooting, and not enough ammo to make a dent in the picket pin population.

Otherwise I recall it exactly like you said. Have heard though the size of the town has vastly increased as of late.

All Marathon employees lived in Rawlins at the time was there.

94 posted on 05/14/2012 4:55:33 PM PDT by Sea Parrot (I'll be a nice to you as you'll let me be, or as mean as you make me be.)
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