Oil shale is a potential source of liquid fuels, and the vast known reserves in the West have served as an impetus for utilizing this reserve. The economics of a system using oil shale in the production of liquid products is examined in this paper. Included production of liquid products is examined in this paper. Included are mining, retorting, and refining to produce the salable product. Capital cost, operating cost, and a financial analysis are detailed.
Oil shale deposits are available in many parts of the world and at one time were one of the major sources of petroleum-like products in several localities. The Scottish deposits were utilized on a commercial scale starting in the 1850's and were still being utilized until about 1964. In this country the Eastern shales associated with coal were used as a source of both oil and gas prior to the Drake well discovery. Between 1916 and 1920 there was a flurry of activity in the Western oil shale fields when there was some feeling that crude oil production was lagging behind an increase in consumption. Imports were available, chiefly from Mexico, but were not sufficient to make up the deficit. The discovery of the oilfields in Oklahoma, California, and Arkansas in the early 1920's, accompanied by the recession in that period, almost completely obviated the experimental effort in Colorado.
The oil shale resources of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming occur in over 11 million acres and it has been estimated that 1.8 trillion barrels are available (having a grade of at least 10 gallons per ton) under the classification of "known reserves." Recently, interest in these reserves has been reactivated, largely because of the anticipated need to broaden the resource base to supplement conventional crude petroleum. This need to fill the gap between energy supply and demand petroleum. This need to fill the gap between energy supply and demand is anticipated before 1980, by both government and industry.