Here’s a roundup of the current state of oil shale recovery technologies and leasing pressure from industry from Dennis Webb writing for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:
As oil shale enthusiasts hope for another chance to try out new ideas on federal lands, environmental groups question the need for a new round of RD&D leases. There are plenty of private oil shale holdings where research and development can occur, said Mike Chiropolos of Western Resource Advocates. Meanwhile, for environmentalists and policymakers pondering the potential impacts of oil shale development, recent patent activity gives them some things to think about.
For example, Chevron’s concept involves injecting carbon dioxide into underground shale formations, along with possible combinations of ammonia, acids, hydrocarbons and other substances. Critics worry about protecting groundwater in these and other oil shale approaches, and they fear how much water oil shale development will require. But Chevron has said it will pursue only a process that’s environmentally sound, and it contends its method actually could produce excess water and result in sequestration of carbon dioxide, thus helping combat global warming.
John Dorgan of Golden filed a 2007 patent application involving a concept to produce potable and nonpotable water from oil shale development, with the option of using the nonpotable water to sequester carbon dioxide. Such ideas may hold promise for reducing oil shale development’s environmental impacts. But Chiropolos said that particularly where federal land is involved, any ideas that are pursued, including any incorporating solar, would require a hard look at potential impacts, such as how many acres of land would be affected.