FIRST OF TWO PARTS: Industry, US government take new look at oil shale

The US Geological Survey estimates the world’s supply of oil shale at 2.6 trillion bbl, of which 2.1 trillion bbl is in the US, primarily in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Oil produced from shale can be refined into high quality petroleum products.But shale oil is difficult-and so far, too expensive-to recover. Kerogen in the rock must be converted to oil through pyrolysis, heated to 500° C. in the absence of air and separated out in a process called retorting. Of the 2.1 trillion bbl of US oil shale resources, government officials say, as much as 750 billion bbl “has a richness of 25 gal/ton or greater and could be produced with near-term adaptations of existing technology....

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