More than a hundred years later, instability is roiling world oil markets, and Americans are paying $3.50 a gallon for gas. And oil shale fever is again rising in the geologic region known as the Piceance Basin, part of the Green River Formation that stretches across the rugged plains of northwestern Colorado and parts of Wyoming and Utah.
There is no dispute that a thousand feet below the isolated ranch country here on Colorado's western slope lie almost unimaginable oil riches. It's locked in sedimentary rock -- essentially immature oil that given a few million years under heat and pressure would produce pools of oil easy to extract.
The Energy Department and private industry estimate that a trillion barrels are here in Colorado -- about the same amount as the entire world's known reserves of conventional oil. The entire Green River Formation might hold as much as 2 trillion barrels.
supposedly secretly Pushed by the Bush administration and legislation from Congress , and spurred by oil prices above $70 a barrel, the energy industry is mobilized to unlock the secret of oil shale. Now Obama has made retrieving shale oil a priority.
Shell's new process involves sinking heaters deep underground, cooking the rock at 700 degrees and recovering the oil and natural gas with conventional drilling.
For a decade, Shell has been ramping up its research on private property here. It is also one of a handful of companies vying for research and development leases on larger tracts of federal land nearby. That could lead to full-scale development across 1,200 square miles of western Colorado.
Early results are promising, says Terry O'Connor, a vice president in the oil giant's unconventional resource division. But, he admits, "no one has been able to develop oil shale on a commercially sustainable basis.
That is $3.50 to $4 fuel that is here now, then I hear this a while back and more started making sense!
Legendary oilman T Boone Pickens says he doesn't believe that the oil sands are an effective substitute for our fuel needs. Pickens said that huge development costs and a tight labor supply will prevent the Alberta oil sands and other unconventional means of production from covering the shortfall in supply. That said, Pickens holds a big stake in both the Canadian Oil Sands Trust [TSX:COS.UN] and Suncor Energy.
When Pickens was in the Alberta oil sand fields in the 60's somebody said this isn't going to work, it isn't possible. It'll all have to be subsidized to a level, said, before they'd make money you'd have to have $5 oil," Pickens says laughing. "We never thought it would happen."
Knowing that T Boone Pickens had invested multiple millions in this! Knowing that between us and Canada we have the more reserves than the entire world combined!
My question is have the oil companies purposely been driving up the prices in order to justify retrieving this huge reserves at our expense? Also at the expense of the environment and alternative fuel sources!