Introduction

There are excellent reasons for trying to develop practical in situ techniques for processing oil shales. In conventional processing, as high as 80 percent of the material mined must also be disposed of as the inert inorganic portion of oil shale. This presents a costly materials handling problem. In addition, as much as 25 percent of the oil shale in place will be left behind as pillars in the mines. Another important consideration is that the rich, thick shale deposits are found under considerable overburden and not readily amenable to mining. There are unique problems and requirements that restrict the use of known in situ processes to oil shales. Among these considerations are such facts as: a. Oil shale does not contain oil, a- such, but is a marlstone of finely divided particles consolidated into rock with a solid insoluble organic matter called "kerogen."b. The only known technique for forming and liberating oily matter from shale is by first heating it until the solid organic matter decomposes into oil, gas, and a solid carbonaceous residue.c. Oil shale deposits in their natural state have little orno initial permeability to gases and liquids. The major problem is the lack of permeability and porosity. However, it should also be kept in mind that oil matter, as such, does not exist in shale.

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