Despite skyrocketing gas prices, oil shale remains long-term energy prospect on Colorado's Western Slope

By David O. Williams
Real AspenApril 15, 2011
Observers of the century-long quest to extract oil from the shale rocks of Colorado's Western Slope are fond of saying “oil shale is the fuel of the future … and always will be.” Never commercially viable because of the costs and resources needed to heat and extract the kerogen trapped in the rocks, an estimated 2 trillion barrels of shale oil remains locked up – perhaps forever.

But why then has Shell spent an estimated $200 million so far on research, development and demonstration (RD&D) at its Mahogany Research Project in western Colorado? And at what point will gas prices rise so high that the cost of producing shale oil suddenly makes sense?

“All of the major companies are doing oil shale because they think it's an interesting and high-potential area, but they're not in a hurry to make it productive,” said Jeremy Boak, director of the Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research (COSTAR) at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. COSTAR's research is described on its website as “industry-driven and science-guided.”

“With [oil] prices going back up through the roof again,” Boak said, “[companies have] an awful lot of things to spend their money on and some of them more near-term than oil shale. The big budgets tend to move toward things that are a little closer in.” Still, Boak maintains the state and federal governments should be doing far more to encourage oil shale production than the current administrations.
The OPEC oil embargo during the Yom Kippur War saw gas prices in the United States spike from 38 cents a gallon in 1973 to 55 cents a gallon in 1974, in part prompting an oil shale boom in Colorado that culminated in the “Black Sunday” crash of 1982. Exxon literally pulled up stakes overnight and turned communities like Parachute, Rifle and Battlement Mesa into ghost towns.

Exxon is one of the companies pursuing a more scaled-back RD&D lease being offered by the Obama administration, which announced in February it was taking a “fresh look” at the Bush administration's so-called “midnight regulations” in 2008 that established a royalty structure and opened up 2 million acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for potential oil shale leasing.

“The previous 2008 regulations made critical decisions such as royalty rate before the RD&D program had a chance to deliver information and answers,” U.S. Interior Secretary and former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar said in February. “They put the cart before the horse, and in so doing they heightened the risk of speculation and bad decisions and yet another oil shale bust.”

But Exxon officials say they're keenly aware of past mistakes and determined not to repeat them.

“It sounds to me like there was a lot more hype back then, but it's always hard to tell where the hype came from,” Boak said. “Was it really the companies that were hyping it or was it the people out there who thought they could buy 5,000 acres and make a killing? Land speculators. Was it the large corporations or was it the Bernie Madoffs of their era that were really trying to cash in on this?”

Ramped up in the late 70s with the embargo fresh in everyone's minds, oil shale crashed once Middle East oil began flowing freely and the labor-intensive process of surface mining and retorting oil shale was no longer cost-effective. But 30 years later oil prices are skyrocketing again in the wake of ongoing political upheaval in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Monday put the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline at $3.79, closing in on the peak of $4.11 a gallon set on July 17, 2008. In Europe, gasoline broke the $8.60 a gallon barrier this spring as events unfolded in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

But even at those prices, commercial oil shale production is of limited interest to Europeans. While still part of the Soviet Union, Estonia developed a commercial oil shale industry, but there have been growing environmental concerns since that nation became part of the European Union.

Boak says companies in Estonia, Brazil and China continue to blaze the oil shale trail, with one Estonian firm “hunting for properties” appropriate for oil shale development in the United States. Still, none of the foreign firms have been able to produce much more than a few thousand barrels of oil a day – a drop in the bucket in terms of global demand. And now the European Union is considering banning oil shale and tar sands development because of studies showing higher greenhouse gas emissions than from conventional fuels.

Meanwhile, Republican members of Colorado's congressional delegation continue to beat the oil shale drum. Just last month in a guest column in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 3rd Congressional District Rep. Scott Tipton wrote: “The development of [oil shale] resources would lead to tens of thousands of good paying jobs and help stabilize our energy supply – putting an end to spikes in gas prices.”

Juxtapose that statement with what Tom Yelverton of ExxonMobil told the Daily Sentinel late last year: “At best, commercial production is a decade away and most likely more.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado's 4th Congressional District is a big backer of stepping up domestic oil and gas production, including oil shale, on the state's Western Slope.

“It is all well and good to propose measures that may pay off decades in the future, such as alternative energy research and higher CAFÉ standards for vehicles,” Lamborn states on his website. “The most urgent and immediate solution though is to ramp up domestic production of oil and gas right now.”

Even the companies deeply involved on oil shale research say it's years from becoming a commercial reality: “In fact, it could take up to 10 to 12 years of additional research, environmental analysis and permitting before a company could develop a federal oil shale lease,” Tracy Boyd of Shell told the Glenwood Post Independent in late 2008.


comments: 32 Comments on "Despite skyrocketing gas prices, oil shale remains long-term energy prospect on Colorado's Western Slope"

Ariana Russo – May 21, 2022, at 4:55 a.m.

Despite skyrocketing gas prices are getting higher for the people. If you see the clash of Russia and Ukraine you will get about it essay writing lab review so this is the main reason actually prices are in hikes nowadays.

farhan – May 30, 2022, at 5:23 p.m.

As a matter of fact, the real-life experiences of other clients can help you decide if the service provider is reliable enough. China sourcing agents

lepetiw688 – Aug. 26, 2022, at 8:44 a.m.

Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get four emails with the identical comment. Is there any way you could possibly un sub me from the service? Thanks! Aliso Viejo refrigerator repair

lepetiw688 – Aug. 27, 2022, at 3:12 a.m.

Yes, I was totally in tune with that. So was my Dad. He said he definitely intends to check it out soon. We will return before you can say anything. https://www.xenicalshop.com/product/7

lepetiw688 – Aug. 27, 2022, at 7:07 a.m.

Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers! instagram likes

lepetiw688 – Aug. 27, 2022, at 8:41 a.m.

When I saw this page was like wow. Thanks for putting your effort in publishing this article. 울산출장마사지

lepetiw688 – Aug. 28, 2022, at 7:30 a.m.

ನ್ಯೂಜಿಲೆಂಡ್ ಇಟಿಎ ವೀಸಾ Can I just say what a aid to seek out somebody who really is aware of what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know how one can bring a problem to light and make it important. More folks need to read this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant believe youre not more in style because you definitely have the gift.

lepetiw688 – Aug. 30, 2022, at 4:12 a.m.

I am incessantly thought about this, regards for posting . ผื่นขึ้นหน้า

lepetiw688 – Aug. 31, 2022, at 4:18 a.m.

I have been checking out some of your articles and i must say pretty good stuff. I will definitely bookmark your blog. Ons SEO bureau inschakelen? Neem contact op met Httpmarketing

lepetiw688 – Aug. 31, 2022, at 7:54 a.m.

Awesome article , I’m going to spend more time researching this subject https://www.xenicalofficial.com/product

lepetiw688 – Sept. 04, 2022, at 5:30 a.m.

I have seen a lot of useful points on your web-site about pc’s. However, I’ve got the view that lap tops are still more or less not powerful more than enough to be a option if you typically do tasks that require a lot of power, including video enhancing. But for website surfing, microsoft word processing, and majority of other prevalent computer functions they are perfectly, provided you do not mind the small screen size. Appreciate sharing your ideas. Shutter Door Repair London

lepetiw688 – Sept. 06, 2022, at 8:21 a.m.

I am extremely impressed together with your writing abilities neatly as with the structure for your weblog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you modify it yourself? Anyway stay up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to peer a nice blog like this one nowadays. 메이저사이트

lepetiw688 – Sept. 07, 2022, at 4:11 a.m.

Thanks for the information provided! I was researching for this article for a long time, but I was not able to see a dependable source. Packers and Movers Hyderabad to Bangalore

lepetiw688 – Sept. 10, 2022, at 3:06 a.m.

You ought to get involved in a contest for just one of the highest quality blogs over the internet. I am going to suggest this web site! Prohemp geeft goede recentie over ons bureau

lepetiw688 – Sept. 16, 2022, at 6:36 a.m.

Hi, you used to write excellent articles, but the last several posts have been kinda lackluster… I miss your super writing. Past few posts are just a little out of track! Онлайн формуляр за кандидатстване за канадска виза

lepetiw688 – Sept. 19, 2022, at 7:13 a.m.

I’m not in a position to view this website correctly on saffari I think there’s a drawback fashion jewellery bidvaluable

Nona – Oct. 07, 2022, at 12:04 p.m.

These guys at Essaybestwriter are known for their fast turnaround times and great customer support. So, sign up today and get essay writing help at affordable prices.

lepetiw688 – Oct. 16, 2022, at 9:37 a.m.

An impressive share, I with all this onto a colleague who had previously been performing a small analysis for this. Anf the husband in truth bought me breakfast due to the fact I found it for him.. smile. So permit me to reword that: Thnx for that treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending plenty of time go over this, I feel strongly about it and adore reading much more about this topic. When possible, as you become expertise, might you mind updating your site to comprehend details? It can be highly great for me. Massive thumb up just for this text! stainless water bottle

lepetiw688 – Oct. 18, 2022, at 4:02 p.m.

of course data entry services are very expensive that is why always make a backup of your files, North American Bancard ISO

lepetiw688 – Oct. 22, 2022, at 10:21 a.m.

Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I’m hoping to provide something back and help others such as you aided me. web design Sydney

lepetiw688 – Oct. 26, 2022, at 10:54 a.m.

ดูหนังออนไลน์ เต็มเรื่อง HD หนังhd ดูหนังใหม่ชนโรง 2022 หนังฝรั่ง ซีรี่ย์เกาหลี พากย์ไทย Netflix ดูหนังผ่านมือถือได้ทั้ง iOS และ Andriod ไม่มีสะดุด ดูบอลสด

lepetiw688 – Oct. 28, 2022, at 12:46 p.m.

Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email. Best ISO Agent Program

lepetiw688 – Oct. 30, 2022, at 8:10 a.m.

I am glad to be a visitant of this perfect blog, regards for this rare info! registered iso of wells fargo bank

lepetiw688 – Oct. 31, 2022, at 5:37 a.m.

The posh shown can distinctive; rrndividuals are generally looking for for just about any Native pipe dream. It all strange spot is intended particularly if the promoting diversity combined with popularity on the travel related services market. Hotel reviews North American Bancard Agent

lepetiw688 – Nov. 01, 2022, at 8:37 a.m.

very good put up, i actually love this web site, keep on it selling merchant services

lepetiw688 – Nov. 03, 2022, at 8:48 a.m.

I just desired to generate a quick comment in order to express gratitude to you for anyone wonderful pointers you will be posting at this site. Time consuming internet investigation has towards the end of waking time been rewarded with excellent strategies to tell my guests. I will say that most of us readers can be extremely endowed to happen in a fantastic network with methods . marvellous people who useful hints. I find myself quite privileged to own used your webpages and appear forward to really more fabulous minutes reading here. Thank you for several things. selling merchant services

lepetiw688 – Nov. 05, 2022, at 4:43 p.m.

When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new surveys are added- checkbox and today every time a comment is added I purchase four emails with the same comment. Is there in whatever way you can eliminate me from that service? Thanks! White Water Pinball For Sale

lepetiw688 – Nov. 05, 2022, at 4:43 p.m.

When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new surveys are added- checkbox and today every time a comment is added I purchase four emails with the same comment. Is there in whatever way you can eliminate me from that service? Thanks! White Water Pinball For Sale

lepetiw688 – Nov. 06, 2022, at 7:15 a.m.

I’d should talk to you here. Which isn’t something It’s my job to do! I quite like reading an article which will make people feel. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment! Jetti Carts

lepetiw688 – Nov. 12, 2022, at 10:07 a.m.

I have fun with, lead to I discovered exactly what I was looking for. You have ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye ดูหนังออนไลน์ หนังใหม่hd

lepetiw688 – Nov. 20, 2022, at 5:04 a.m.

Thanks for all your valuable labor on this web site. My mum loves participating in investigation and it’s really obvious why. A number of us notice all of the powerful mode you convey invaluable guidelines by means of the web site and even increase participation from website visitors on that topic so our own princess is without question understanding a lot. Take advantage of the rest of the year. You have been doing a stunning job. keto pills

lepetiw688 – Nov. 28, 2022, at 7:36 a.m.

I totally agree , I absolutely hate the “Hey there, I subscribed to your RSS Feed” type of comments on my blog. HOWEVER I do get a kick out of comment spam that has absolutely no benefit for the guy spamming , broken links , no anchor text ,ect. I guess I should be upset a little more about it , but akismet is so great about catching things any more. Game bài đổi thưởng

COMMENT
Comment Form Info  Comment Information
Real Aspen encourages you to post comments on our articles and blogs. Logged in email is required for monitoring purposes. Your email will not be published and will not be distributed to any third-party. Abusive, obscene, profane, threatening, libelous or defamatory comments are prohibited. By posting a comment, you agree to this policy and our terms of use. To report an abusive posting, please contact us.

To make a comment, please log in or create an account. This helps us prevent spam and other malicious attacks.

Please log in to comment

 

Create a user account to comment

Snow Report

  24hr snow mid dpth snow cond.
A-Basin n/a n/a
Aspen n/a n/a closed
BC n/a n/a closed
Breckenridge n/a n/a closed
Buttermilk n/a n/a closed
Copper n/a n/a closed
Crest. Butte n/a n/a closed
Eldora n/a n/a closed
Heavenly n/a n/a closed
Highlands n/a n/a
Howelsen n/a n/a closed
Keystone n/a n/a closed
Kirkwood n/a n/a closed
Loveland n/a n/a
Monarch n/a n/a closed
Northstar n/a n/a closed
Powderhorn n/a n/a closed
Purgatory n/a n/a closed
Silverton n/a n/a closed
Ski Cooper n/a n/a closed
Ski Granby n/a n/a closed
Snowmass n/a n/a closed
Steamboat n/a n/a closed
Sunlight n/a n/a closed
Telluride n/a n/a closed
Vail n/a n/a closed
WinterPark n/a n/a closed
Wolf Creek n/a n/a closed
More Weather Reports
VIDEO GALLERY
Vail powder day snow snake
Airing it out at Crested Butte
Feb. 17, 2011 Surprise 14 inches of Fresh Powder