Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oil Shale Kerogen Prospects in Morroco

Massive deposits of oil shale kerogens exist in the US, Jordan, Israel, and several other nations. Morocco is beginning to take a look at ways that it can capitalise on its own deposits of oil shale kerogens.
TheDominion Moroccan Oil Shale

Morocco, like Jordan and Israel, is moving towards using the most carbon intensive fuel base on earth. This move is supported by present, and projected, oil prices that make synthetic crude from oil shale profitable on a near permanent basis. Technology has become cheaper while the price of oil has gone up dramatically. Recent industry estimates indicate that oil can now be extracted from shale for approximately US$40 per barrel, while the average price at an American pump is US$94 per barrel.

With global oil demand slated to grow, Morocco is set to become an unconventional oil producer through mining oil shale and converting it to mock crude oil in a fashion similar to Canadian tar sands development, but borrowing on shale technology from Brazil. Morocco also has contracts to use Estonian technology to mine and burn oil shale directly for domestic electricity.

Estonia is one of a few countries in the world that has ongoing oil shale currently in operation. The Tangier deposit of oil shale in the north of Morocco is likely to see Eesti Energy-owned Enefit of Estonia work to mine this shale directly for domestic electricity generation, which would treat the kerogen shale more like a cousin of coal rather than an ancestor of oil.

Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned oil company, has developed a technique of extracting oil as well as gas from oil shale, and has been involved in this process commercially since the early 1980s. A partnership between Petrobras and TOTAL energy of France has been developing towards shale-to-oil mining at the Timahdit deposit, a deposit much larger than Tangier, approximately 240 kilometres southeast of Rabat, Morocco’s capital. Petrobras would be the main operator of the Timahdit mine, but both world energy majors will share the costs and profits. _ExtremeExtraction

The above article goes on to point out a few of the environmental problems with a large scale development of shale oil extraction in Morroco. The world kerogen resource is not yet ready for modern development -- at least not in ways that would satisfy modern environmental lobbies -- particularly in the US.

And yet if environmental lobbies continue trying to block and prohibit the development of all forms of reliable large-scale energy and fuels, eventually they are likely to be lined up against a wall and shot. The reason for this is that civilisation cannot exist without energy, and if the only forms of large-scale reliable energy happen to be objectionable to the big money environmental lobbies, popular opinion will eventually swing violently against these special interests -- which too often only pretend to be concerned about the environment, being in reality more often concerned with their own power, wealth, and influence.

Here is a broader look at some of the replacements for crude oil, including kerogens:
Shale is a type of sedimentary rock rich in organic matter. Deposits of shale often contain kerogen, a set of organic compounds from which petroleum (oil and natural gas) can be extracted through a series of chemical processes. Extraction of oil from shale had been the standard way of extracting oil for centuries, with British patents granted for extraction of oil in this way going back as far as the 16th century. Oil from shale came to an abrupt end when liquid oil started gushing from wells in the continental United States. Rising demand for petroleum products and significant deposits of oil and natural gas in shale has led oil companies the world over, from the US to India, to start investing in technologies to make possible its extraction. So much so, that shale gas is slated to form a major portion of the natural gas produced in the US. In India too, companies such as Reliance, Reliance Natural Resources and ONGC are preparing to invest in shale gas exploration in a big way, with large deposits found in the Cambay Basin in Gujarat, the Gondwana Basin in Central India and the Assam-Arakan basin in eastern India.

...Technically, bitumen is a highly viscous form of petroleum. Rising prices of oil in the international market have made bitumen an unlikely, yet promising, source. So much so that even within this most conventional of energy sources, extraction of petroleum from bitumen is termed as unconventional oil.

Canada and Venezuela are especially well endowed with large reserves of oil sands. Located beneath boreal forests, the Canadian deposits are the world’s most extensive and are supposed to contain a potential 170 billion barrels of oil, larger than the total reserves of Saudi Arabia.

... _Drilling for Dummies by a Dummy
Shale gas to liquids and coal to liquids are yet two more large-scale sources for crude oil replacements for the future. All of these approaches to peak oil substitution are made more viable by the use of process heat from gas-cooled gen III nuclear reactors.

One sign of hope that some of the environmental special interests may be developing a small bit of pragmatism, is the growing number of self-labeled environmentalists who are publicly coming out for new, safe, advanced, nuclear power. While their backing of nuclear power may be caused by a delusional carbon hysteria, it is welcome all the same.

If only more of the whining obstructionists would learn to solve problems, rather than creating or exaggerating them, they might be taken more seriously by the people who actively prop up the infrastructure of civilisation.



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