"The belief that technology can always overcome natural limits just took a big hit this week when Royal Dutch Shell PLC decided to shut down its pilot oil shale project in western Colorado after 31 years of experimentation ... Shell says it wants to shift resources away from the intransigent rock and move it to profitable opportunities ... So why isn't oil shale yielding to the mighty combination of deep pockets, sophisticated technology and high prices? ... In simple terms, it takes energy to get energy. Shell's process requires copious amounts of electricity to heat the rock in place through boreholes in order to release the waxy hydrocarbons embedded in it. In this pilot project, the subterranean rock was heated for three years before liquids were captured and brought to the surface for further processing. (Oil shale is a promotional term. Oil shale is neither shale, nor does it contain oil. It is better characterized as organic marlstone. It contains kerogen, a waxy, long-chain hydrocarbon that must be extensively processed to make it into a synthetic form of crude oil. Oil shale is often confused with oil taken from deep shale formations such as the Bakken in North Dakota, oil properly called 'tight oil'.) The ratio of energy outputs to inputs for oil shale is estimated to be about 2 to 1, according to a study by Cleveland Cutler who has long examined energy return on energy invested. Shell claimed a ratio of around 3 to 1 (though that claim no longer appears on the project site). That seems good until you realize that we are currently running the world on crude which has a ratio around 20 to 1 ... And, yet here we are. Brent Crude, the de facto world benchmark, hovers around $108 dollars. The average daily price for the past three years has remained above $100. In the face of these consistent record high prices, Shell is abandoning oil shale development."

Zum Artikel von Kurt Cobb, erschienen auf Resource Insights (29. September 2013) »

Zum Kommentar von Steve Andrews "Shell’s Shale Oil Shutdown—1-800-Dry-Hole" von ASPO USA auf den Peak Oil News and Message Boards (30. September 2013) »