Ecology And Environment

Oil Shale



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The United State of America contains major deposits of oil shale, which is a promising resource. Oil shale is a type of fine grained sedimentary rock that is crucial to the current energy problem. Technically speaking, this sedimentary rock contains large amounts of kerogen, a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds. From this chemical a process called pyrolisis converts kerogen to synthetic crude oil. During this process, the oil shale is heated to about 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This converts the kerogen from a solid to a liquid. The fuel located in the kerogen rises to the top separating the petroleum-like shale oil from the combustible shale oil. The usable oil is extracted from the top uses a process called surface retorting. For every barrel of oil that is produced, about 1.5 tons of loose rock is left behind. In addition to gaining oil, this rock could be used for many projects. To sum up, when oil shale is exposed to intense heat it produces unconventional and usable oil. I stand behind this process fully.

Years ago, the cost of this process surpassed the benefit. However, a significant amount of time and money has been invested into cutting the cost, making the process more affordable and efficient. Although extracting usable fuel from oil shale is still more expensive than regular oil production, it is less than the market price of oil in the United States today. In addition, expanding the mining process would create thousands of jobs for American people. This is why I believe that we should pursue this alternative energy source.

Along with off shore drilling, oil shale is yet another way to keep oil production in the United States. The Green River Basin of Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado is just one of the major oil shale deposits within our boundaries. In this area 1.5 trillion barrels oil could be fully recovered. This is more than three times as much as the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia could produce, and would supply us with oil for an estimated 400 years. Several states, including Utah, Wyoming and Colorado would see an increased tax base and a better functioning economy. Furthermore, the United States has the potential to become the world leader in unconventional oil production. Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah said it best, You're talking about tremendous reservesif we can recover up to one trillion barrels of oil, that's more proven reserves than all of the proven reserves in the Middle East put together. I say it again, the United States needs to be less dependent on foreign oil, and this is a way to make that happen.

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