Joint Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Petroleum Sections of AIME, 3–4 March, Denver


With the ever increasing costs of crude oil exploration and the increasing demand for petroleum in the U. S., it is apparent that in a few years secondary sources of fuels will be required. A survey of the possible sources of fuel oils leads one to conclude that the oil shale reserves will probably be the first fuel reserve to be exploited to supplement the supply of crude oil required for national security and consumer demand.

Of the various oil shale deposits in the U. S., the deposit of the Picane Creek Basin in northwestern Colorado is undoubtedly the first deposit which will be developed as it contains approximately 350 billion bbl of shale oil, a 1,000-year supply if recovered at the rate of a million B/D.

With these facts in mind, the Oil Shale Corp. acquired the Western Hemisphere patent rights to exploit the Swedish Aspeco process which appeared to hold promise as an economical method of retorting Colorado oil shale. Briefly, the Aspeco process involves an oil shale retorting step carried out by means of countercurrent flow of shale and heat carrying solids, and a combustion step wherein heat is recovered from the retorted shale and transferred to the heat carrying solids. Approximately two years ago the Oil Shale Corp. contracted with the Denver Research Institute, University of Denver, to conduct the necessary studies to examine the Aspeco Process in detail, and to construct and operate a 1 ton per hour pilot plant. Specifically, the objectives of the studies were:

  1. To investigate the technical characteristics of the Aspeco process of oil shale retorting in the laboratory, and to determine optimum operating conditions and engineering design;

  2. To construct and operate a one ton per hour pilot plant retort in order to secure engineering data as a basis for further process design and for a detailed economic evaluation of the process.

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