NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Peak Oil Update: Big time bloggers discover shale oil

We have been blogging on shale oil for months now. The big guns, Instapudit and Austin Bay are commenting on the oil industries interest in shale oil. All the posts may have been generated by the Rocky Mountain News article we highlighted below.

Click here for a private e-mail comment. For public comment select comments below.


Blogger steve frisch said...

See attached Rand report on shale oil.

A few comments:

1) Rand does not calculate the external costs of shale oil production.

2) Estimates of world oil consumption are at least 50% too low at current rates of growth due to the increase in Chinese consumption.

3) Rand does not calculate the economic cost of water used to produce shale oil.

Even with all of these difficiencies the report is telling. The cost of producing shale oil would be the permanent destruction of thousands of sqaure miles of landscape and all of the flora and fauna the depend upon them, including...hold your breath...the people that live on the landscape.

Do we really seriously believe that the people of this country are going to sit still while these lands are stripped? How do we deal with the public ownership of the land by all of the people of America? Do we all share the profit, or just the giant energy tsars? What about the native people on that land? Think we have the political will to dispossess them again? How about the neighboring private property owners? Are we to seize their land? Pay them for the destruction of thier way of life? What do you think will be more valuable in the west, a barrel of oil or a barrel of water. Becasue according to this study it will take three barrels of water to produe one barrel of oil.

This is an utterly untenable option, and any thinking person would know it. Raising it as a serious option for anything but a temporary, limited, expensive, short term alternative to our dependance upon oil is a fallacy. Worse than a fallacy, it is a red herring, designed to convince people that options for shale oil exist and put off our need to transition to a non-carbon based alternative.

Thu Sep 22, 07:11:00 AM PDT  
Blogger steve frisch said...

Just had to add this link and text from testimony to the Senate Energy Committee

"Environmental Impact: The environmental impacts of shale oil development are significant.

Like the resource, they will primarily be concentrated in small geographic locations. Because oil shale is mined, there are surface impacts. Oil shale production is water intensive, which is an important limited resource in the regions with oil shale deposits. Because the retorting processes are energy intensive, there are combustion emissions in areas where the air is currently very clean. The mining or in situ technologies may also disturb the local water tables. In the case of the in situ technology, the spent shale in place ma y contain toxins that need to be kept away from ground water. In the case of surface retorting, the spent shale, processing water, and other byproducts must be disposed of in a safe manner. How to do that on a massive scale has not been defined. To produce a million barrels of oil would require disposal of more than a million tons of byproducts. Finally, because shale oil production is energy intensive, the industry could add significantly to green house gas emissions during production. Similarly, greenhouse gas emissions will be released when the fuel is consumed.
The positive aspect of the resource is that its density is so great that the environmental impacts can be restricted to a relatively small area within two or three states."

Yeah...we are going to get away with depleting the groundwater and leaving behind piles of potentially toxic rock that need to be managed for decades.

Oh yeah...shale oil creates dioxin gas as a byproduct, a carcinogen linked to immune system diseases as well as numerous cancers..

Thu Sep 22, 07:32:00 AM PDT  
Blogger steve frisch said...

Oh last thing. That tesimony on environmnetal impacts is from a Bush administration official.

Thu Sep 22, 07:33:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Frederic Christie said...

Even the companies discussing it, Steve, as I've posted to Russ, have their doubts, and how much can be taken from shale is questionable.

Thu Sep 22, 01:31:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Russ Steele said...

I read the RAND report and find that most of the distruction and polution can be mitigated with "in situ" methods, especially if we use nuclear power as the heat source. A non-carbon heat source.

As for your non-carbon energy source for transportation, which is a major oil consumer, what would it be? Most non-carbon sources consume too much energy to make them economically practical for hydrogen conversion. The enery cost of manufacturing and maintaining solar cells, wind generators and growing corn for distilled fuel are too high, then add the cost of hydrogen production they become a major looser.

What is your solution?

Sun Sep 25, 09:15:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Frederic Christie said...

The RAND report as well as other oil industry and think tank reports, even from the companies arguing for "in situ", is that a) shale isn't enough to be important, but b) it's an experimental technology. Mind you, I hope there's limitless energy, but we need to be planning as if there's not.

"Too high" means what, Russ? "Too high" compared to the market price of oil? But that's the problem. The market price of oil is less than the social cost. That's not true with wind, geothermal, solar, etc.

Mon Sep 26, 06:55:00 PM PDT  

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