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Page added on May 12, 2012

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200 Year Supply Of Oil In Green River Formation

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The Green River Formation, the world’s largest oil shale deposit, is located in a largely vacant region of mostly federal land on the western edge of the Rocky Mountains that includes portions of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado (see map above).

Here’s an excerpt from testimony about the Green River Formation that was provided on Thursday by Anu K. Mittal, Government Accountability Office (GAO) Director of Natural Resources and Environment, to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology titled “Unconventional Oil and Gas Production: Opportunities and Challenges of Oil Shale Development“:

“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. 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. 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. 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.”

MP: Surprisingly, this testimony got almost no press coverage, here’s one exception from CNS News.  Shouldn’t it be newsworthy that the U.S. has 1.5 trillion barrels of recoverable in  the Green River Formation, an amount even greater than this estimate of 1.392 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves in the entire world?  The GAO did issue a study in October 2010 that may have already identified the vast resources in the Green River area, so maybe this is old news and not worth reporting.

But with current U.S. daily oil consumption running at about 19.5 million barrels, the staggering amount of Green River reserves would by itself supply domestic oil consumption for more than 200 years! The testimony also mentioned that industry experts estimate future development of Green River to be 15-20 years away, but it’s not clear if that’s due to federal regulatory issues or limitations of current drilling technology.

Even if development is 15-20 years away, the vast untapped energy resources of Green River, the largest oil shale deposit in the world, provide additional support for the idea that “peak oil” is “peak idiocy” (Mike Munger’s explains here).

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19 Comments on "200 Year Supply Of Oil In Green River Formation"

  1. Rick on Sat, 12th May 2012 8:00 pm 

    Okay, once again propaganda. And if even partially true, it keeps us addicted to oil, and nothing will change, until it’s really too late.

    And let’s not forget, this is the crap oil, hard to get, hard to convert.

  2. bobinget on Sat, 12th May 2012 8:40 pm 

    From Wikipedia:

    Oil shale reserves refers to oil shale resources that are recoverable under given economic restraints and technological abilities. Oil shale deposits range from small presently non-economic occurrences to large presently commercially exploitable reserves. Defining oil shale reserves is difficult, as the chemical composition of different oil shales, as well as their kerogen content and extraction technologies, vary significantly. The economic feasibility of shale oil extraction is highly dependent on the price of conventional oil; if the price of crude oil per barrel is less than the production price per barrel of shale oil, it is uneconomic.

  3. mike on Sat, 12th May 2012 10:01 pm 

    Well all we have to do is read that last line and it gives everything away now doesn’t it. Move along and don’t feed the Trolls

  4. Ely Goldsmith on Sat, 12th May 2012 10:27 pm 

    Lets use up every one else’s oil first

  5. Ely Goldsmith on Sat, 12th May 2012 10:27 pm 

    Lets use up every one else’s oil first

  6. AWB on Sun, 13th May 2012 12:02 am 

    For decades major oil companies have struggled to extract oil shale in the Green River Basin without spending more energy than they get out. It was even suggested at one point that a small nuclear device be used.

    At the end of the day, it’s not about price, it’s about EROIE.

  7. MrEnergyCzar on Sun, 13th May 2012 1:20 am 

    It’s still a net energy loser to produce it. Same for the oil on the planet Titan…


  8. Ham on Sun, 13th May 2012 1:29 am 

    So we have economic expediency to thank for solving any problems we may encounter re EROEI or the vast waste of resources just to get oil. At no point in this article does the word ‘water’ get mentioned. The process of converting kerogen to oil involves cooking and steaming. HUGE amounts of water are required. It is a complete fantasy to suggest that because it is ‘in situ’ that we will be able to acquire it to feed our greedy consumption. Cloud cuckoo land, pure and simple.

  9. Rollin on Sun, 13th May 2012 2:51 am 

    With kerogen shale and methane hydrates we have the capability to turn the whole planet into a toxic wasteland. Unless global climate shift gets us first. The race is on.

    Civilization has now achieved the same mindset as those horror film actors that you want to tell ” Don’t open that door!” or ” Don’t go down in that basement, it will kill you!!” They still go, they always still go anyway. They can’t stop themselves. The script means everything.

  10. Rollin on Sun, 13th May 2012 3:01 am 

    The last line of this essay is totally wrong. Peak oil is about crude oil, not kerogen. Crude oil is peaking and has been in many places. Kerogen shale does not produce oil, it produces grease.
    I don’t see figures in the testimony for rate of recovery or water usage. Sounds like a pipe dream at this point (pun intended).

  11. dissident on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:08 am 

    Total cornucopian nonsense. To get “shale oil” you need to grind the shale into small fragments and cook it at 400 Celsius for about one hour. The EROEI is much, much smaller than the bitumen sands. From what I have read it appears that the EROEI is worse than ethanol and less than one. Maybe if they built some nuclear power plants just for extraction and conversion then kerogen could become commercially viable. But nobody is building anything to convert kerogen into oil.

  12. Anvil on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:09 am 

    What a crude article.

  13. BillT on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:47 am 

    I got to “200 year supply of oil…” and knew it was another huge pile of bullshit from Big Petro and their pimps.

    “development is 15-20 years away”…might as well be forever as 15-20 years they will not even recognize the Empire…or what is left of it. Certainly, there will be no money for anything but necessities and an EROEI of 1:1 will not be one of them.

  14. FloridaGirl on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:53 am 

    “Oil shale reserves refers to oil shale resources that are recoverable under given economic restraints and technological abilities.”

    If it takes more energy to produce than you get from it, it will never be economic to produce. The cost of the energy to produce it will increase along with the value of the energy produced so it will never catch up.

  15. BillT on Sun, 13th May 2012 4:59 am 

    BTW: Shale oil and Oil shale are two totally different animals. You cannot use them interchangeably and be intelligent.

    “Oil shale: a fine-grained sedimentary rock, containing significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds), from which liquid hydrocarbons can be manufactured.”

    “shale oil: A crude oil that is obtained from oil shale by heating and distillation.”

    One is a rock, the other a liquid.

  16. Norm on Sun, 13th May 2012 9:05 am 

    Wait a minnit, wait a minnit. 7 posts up, Titan is not a planet. It is a moon. Therefore, since it is a moon, then it should be fairly easy to bring back oil and methane from Titan.

  17. MrEnergyCzar on Sun, 13th May 2012 3:00 pm 

    Was waiting for someone to catch my Titan mistake…


  18. Bob Owens on Sun, 13th May 2012 3:23 pm 

    That’s all humanity needs: a 200 year supply of oil that we can burn! We could turn the Earth into the planet Venus (a molten hell-hole)!

  19. Cloud9 on Sun, 13th May 2012 10:53 pm 

    I suspect that there is enough gold in sea water to pay off the national debt if we could only get at it.

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