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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why is Estonia Beating us in Oil Shale Development?

As to why Estonia is beating the United states in Oil Shale Production, I think the answer comes down to political will to get the job done. Lincoln Brown lays out for us how advanced their process is...

"A company in Estonia is mining a 9 foot high seam of oil shale. From that seam the company has created a plant that is producing something on the order 25 thousand barrels of oil per day. And while environmentalists would tell you that it uses up that most precious of resources: water, water is not used at all in the extraction process. In fact the drier the shale the better. So much for the myth of water going down the proverbial dry hole. Additionally, the Estonian plant meets the exacting air quality requirements of the European Union, which is no small feat in this day and age.

But is it useable? Well, unless the laws of physics in Estonia vary wildly from those in the United States, the Magic Eight Ball seems to say YES. The country of Estonia has a total of eight power plants running off of oil shale. Six of those are in operation and two are in the process of being refurbished. Construction is underway on a new power plant that will generate 600 megawatts of electricity when it goes online.

Impressive numbers? Yes. But a drop in the bucket when you consider that the seam of oil shale in my part of the world is not nine feet high but 70 feet. Consider the possibilities."

Perhaps we could learn something from the Estonians in so far as extracting energy from this abundant resource. There comes a time when, even if energy prices gradually lower over time, that we have to develope our own resources due to instability in the parts of the world where OPEC extracts their oil.


His Lordship The Gun-Toting Atheist said...

I think the answer comes down to political will to get the job done.

Here's my theory as to why the political will appears absent, and I welcome any criticism of it, as it's just a theory and I am not emotionally attached to it:

OPEC countries are slowly running out of oil. OPEC knows this, and our government knows it too. The strategy here is to hold on to our own reserves for as long as possible, so that when OPEC finally runs out of oil, we become the last place on Earth to have it, and we use our monopolistic position to sell it to the world at an astronomical price, for record profit. Imagine a future where Saudi Arabia is importing their oil from Alaska...

Just a theory.

JD Curtis said...

Along those same lines...

I recall an interview from years ago with a Baptist minister who felt that his calling was ministering to pipeline workers in Alaska.

He was well liked for his work by the oil company and he recounted being called into the executives office the day after a big oil strike and was told that this one find would be enough to power America for years.

The next day he (allegedly) was told to forget about the previous day's conversation by the oil exec and that the find would not be developed until oil hit X dollars per barrel.

He stated that the find was on Gull Island, Alaska in case it ever comes into the news again.

JD Curtis said...

I found a blog entry about the supposed Gull Island find. Seems inconclusive though. Link