American shale exploration company, Red Leaf Resources Inc., reported yesterday that The Utah Division of Water Quality issued a construction permit for Red Leaf’s EcoShale™ production capsule. The company is now ready to begin its 300,000 barrel commercial demonstration project in the Uinta Basin, Utah.
Michael Binnion, President and Chief Executive Officer of Questerre, commented, “This is an important milestone for Red Leaf and the future of oil shale. We are looking forward to construction beginning for the first commercial scale capsule this summer.”
Oil shale is often confused in the media with shale oil and shale gas production. When traditional oil and gas is extracted from shale rock formations like those in North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas, it is correctly called shale oil and shale gas, not oil shale. Such extraction process involves drilling for the resource. Hydraulic Fracturing or “fracking” often used when drilling for shale gas and shale oil.
By contrast, oil shale development is the process by which a solid organic material rich in hydrocarbons called “kerogen” is converted to crude oil, condensate and natural gas through the application of heat. All traditional oil and gas was once kerogen. Over tens of millions of years, heat from the earth’s core caused deposits of kerogen to transform into oil and natural gas. Modern oil shale production simply speeds up the natural process of turning kerogen into oil and gas, either by mining the ore and heating it at the surface or heating it underground (in-situ). EcoShale is a surface mining and processing technology.
Red Leaf’s initial capsule will be the first commercialization of oil shale in North America. This is a significant step for the oil shale industry given that the Green River Formation – which underlies Utah, Wyoming and Colorado – is considered the richest deposit of oil shale resource in the world. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the formation holds more than 3 trillion barrels of oil, with more than 77 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Uinta Basin alone.
“Unlike traditional oil shale retorts which require a lot of energy, use a lot of water and produce significant emissions, Red Leaf’s EcoShale extraction process was specifically designed to address the environmental challenges associated with oil shale development,” said Red Leaf Chief Executive Officer, Adolph Lechtenberger. “There are more than 20 U.S. patents on the EcoShale technology, which extracts oil with lower energy consumption, lower emissions, lower water use and less environmental impact than any oil shale technology deployed in the world today.”
“In addition to having less environmental impact, the EcoShale process develops a much higher quality product than traditional oil shale production. Our oil is equal to or better than the industry benchmark of light, sweet West Texas Intermediate crude,” Lechtenberger continued. “At today’s oil prices, the economics of EcoShale are very good.”
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