Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussions may be presented at the above meeting and, with the paper, may be considered for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.
Although world oil supplies appear fully capable of providing the petroleum appetite of this planet for petroleum appetite of this planet for many years to come, national interests and geographic remoteness from prolific oil fields have promoted the establishment of synthetic fuel industries. An examination of existing and prospective synthetic fuels industries outside the United States reveals only two which may be considered to have the potential of future growth. These are potential of future growth. These are the tar sands of Canada and oil shale in Brazil. A comparison of the processing techniques now employed along with the reserves supporting these processes with a simple set of criteria for success points up the short-comings of the oil shale operations in Estonia and Manchuria and the coal facilities in South Africa. A lack of improved technology may be cited as the single most important criteria not met by these industries. Although attempts are being made to create an emerging technology from an antiquated base in these instances, the research may well have begun too late to permit the existence of these international synthetic fuel plants in a future competitive world oil market.
This review of the international synthetic fuels picture, although not intended to be exhaustive, will attempt to outline the current situation as we know it with some thoughts on the future. Since several recent reviews adequately treat the situation in this country, our primary aim will be to bring you up to primary aim will be to bring you up to date on synfuel activities outside the United States, especially where industries are in being or where prospects appear encouraging.
Before proceeding further let us establish a definition of "synthetic fuels" as we use the term. Synthetic fuels are hydrocarbons derived from coal, oil shale or tar sands, that are similar in quality and characteristics to petroleum liquids and gases.