A Comparative Study of Oil Shale, Tar Sands and Coal as Sources of Oil
- Russell J. Cameron (Cameron and Jones Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1969
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 253 - 259
- 1969. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.8.4 Shale Oil, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control
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During the past 20 years improved technical approaches to the manufacture of synthetic fuels from oil shale, tar sands and coal have made each of these sources a potential contender for a share of the liquid fuel market in the U. S. Here is a comparison of some of the factors that could influence their competitive position.
Liquid Fuels Trends
A comparison of oil shale, tar sands, and coal is rather academic unless there is a need for synthetic fuels. A forecast of liquid fuels supply and demand is shown in Fig. 1.
For oil demand we have selected the median projection of Lansberg, Fishman and Fisher from their projection of Lansberg, Fishman and Fisher from their study entitled, "Resources in America's Future". This estimate is a composite of projections available to these authors at the time (1962) and has been confirmed by the President's interdepartmental Energy Study Group in their report entitled, "Energy R and D and National Progress", published in 1965. Oil consumption in 1966 exceeded this forecast by about a quarter of a billion barrels, therefore it can be reasonably presumed to be a conservative projection, even considering the effect of the Vietnam war.
Stewart Udall, as Secretary of the Interior, suggested in an address to the National Petroleum Council in Feb., 1967, that imports should be limited to 30 percent of demand. Line 4 on Fig. 1 projects the production of domestic liquid fuels required if production of domestic liquid fuels required if imports are limited to 30 percent of demand.
M. King Hubbert, a noted Shell Oil Co. scientist (retired) and a member of the Committee on Natural Resources of the National Academy of Sciences, has studied intensively the patterns of oil discovery and production. He had concluded that the peak rate of production. He had concluded that the peak rate of discovery in the United States was reached in 1956 and that the peak rate of production would be reached about 1967. In our projection in Fig. 1, we use a later date (1973) for peak production, primarily because there is no alternative source of liquid fuels to fill the gap, and the oil required to meet demand during this period probably will be available from new fields in Alaska and from domestic production derived by further relaxing prorationing in Texas and Louisiana.
The hatched area in Fig. 1 is an approximation of the market potential for liquid fuels from nonconventional sources. This could amount to 700,000 B/D by 1975 and 4,800,000 B/D by 1985.
The trend clearly points to an opportunity and indeed a need for synthetic fuels if their economics can justify them. Our paper considers this question and the relative merits of each source.
The potential reserves of hydrocarbon in oil shale, tar sand and coal suitable for conversion to synthetic oil are very large. Even those only remotely familiar with the subject have heard of the trillions of barrels of shale oil and our thousands of years of coal reserves. Tar sands also come in hundred-billion barrel numbers. As with the gold in sea water, these quantities are meaningless.
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