Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
Page added on November 20, 2012
There’s no question, says Rusco, that the oil is there, all 3 trillion barrels of it…
…Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be 3 trillion barrels.
“In the past 100 years — in all of human history — we have consumed 1 trillion barrels of oil. There are several times that much here,” said Roger Day, vice president for operations for American Shale Oil (AMSO). _ABCnews
Enefit, an oil producer headquartered in Estonia, has been producing oil from oil shale in Europe for more than 30 years, according to the CEO of its Utah subsidiary, Enefit American Oil. Rikki Hrenko says Enefit brings the shale to the surface, then heats it in retorts.
“It’s more labor intensive to have to mine the shale,” Hrenko said. “But the economics are still quite feasible.” She puts the break-even price at about $65 a barrel. The cost of producing in Utah, she thinks, will be only slightly higher than in Estonia. _ABCNews
But in reality, in situ production would be cheaper in the Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming than mining in Estonia — if producers used a cheap enough source of abundant, high quality heat. In fact, being able to produce a resource of 3 trillion boe, at a price of between $60 and $70 a barrel, might seem to place a price ceiling on global oil.
The only problem is that it will probably take 20 years before the technology and cheap process heat are ready to meet the government regulations and prevailing prices for oil.
Yes, it will probably also be 20 years before modular high temperature gas cooled nuclear reactors are approved in the US and produced in high enough numbers to be placed at Green River well heads.
But even when the technology, the cheap heat, the environmental approvals, and the market prices all come together, there is still the problem of getting the oil to global markets. The big price gap between WTI and Brent points out the problem nicely. Adding refined oil shale kerogens to the North American mix would not help the problem of lack of access to ports.
Getting the product to market is a serious problem, in a political environment where the US Democratic Party has stonewalled the export of abundant shale gas, and obstructed LNG terminal construction in US ports. Current agendas of energy starvation cause the cost of doing all business — including energy business — to shoot up accordingly.
Overall, US demand for oil has been on a downward slope, while US shale oil production has grown exponentially. US oil & gas production combined with energy imports from Canada and Mexico, leave little need for imports from the middle east.
So US demand for oil shale kerogens at this time is minimal. The US economy overall is “hunkered down” and shell shocked — uncertain about the prospects of 4 more years under the Obama administration.
But, there is still the possibility that the US might eventually clean up its economic act and stop accumulating Obama-debt and stop devaluing the Obama-dollar. If that happens, the US will need a lot more energy.
If the US should ever need to produce its 3 trillion barrels of oil equivalent from Green River Shale kerogens, will the cheap, abundant, high temperature heat be ready?
A group of far-sighted companies, including AREVA, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, Entergy, Graftech International Ltd., Mersen, Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada, SGL Group, Technology Insights, Toyo Tanso Co. Ltd., and Westinghouse are pursuing the development of a true next-generation nuclear technology referred to as the High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) for the past few years. Without too much technical detail, HTGRs are helium-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors with robust ceramic-coated fuel that operate at temperatures at or above 750 Degrees Celsius (1400 Fahrenheit) where conventional light water reactors operate at temperatures less than half that. In short:
The design is intrinsically safe. It requires neither active or passive systems nor operator interventions to remain safe, thereby allowing co-location near major industrial facilities.
High temperature output that allow direct substitution for fossil fuel use in industrial process heat applications.
Much higher efficiency leading to lower energy cost, making it competitive with natural gas in many places of the world today without any price for carbon. _NGNPAlliance_via_NBF
Here is a short link list of some things that you can do with cheap, virtually unlimited high quality process heat:
Those things, and many more — including biomass to liquids and gas hydrates to liquids — will be accomplished by next generation gas-cooled high temperature nuclear reactors.
NGNPAlliance Home Page
The image above matches different industrial processes with the level of heat required. Since HTGRs can provide abundant heat up to 850 C or 900 C, all of the lucrative processes listed in the image suddenly come within economical reach — once HTGRs are perfected, licensed, and mass produced in factory-built modular units.
The image above provides thumbnail images of different processes that will become more profitable with the abundant availability of high temperature, high quality process heat.
Why do we at Al Fin Energy continue to emphasise the importance of HTGRs? Because if the US government had devoted half as much attention to developing and perfecting the mass production of safe, relatively inexpensive, and reliable HTGR modules — instead of wasting hundreds of $billions on intermittent unreliable forms of energy — the “energy crisis” would have been solved by now.
The fact that this has not been done, reveals for a certainty that government is not serious about providing inexpensive, clean, abundant energy for industry and society at large. Government energy policy is instead based upon more corrupt and ideological motivations, which delay the era of energy abundance unnecessarily.