Monday, March 21, 2011

Israeli Oil Shale: 250 Billion Barrel Oil Equivalent Bonanza?

Dr. Harold Vinegar of Israeli Energy Initiatives is very optimistic about turning tiny Israel into a world giant of fuels. Estimates place Israel's reserves of oil shale kerogens second only to those of the US.

Dr. Vinegar has developed a new, deep in situ process of extracting oil from oil shale, which are not supposed to use excessive amounts of either water or energy. In fact, Vinegar claims that it will cost no more to produce oil from Israeli oil shale, than it costs Brazil to produce its offshore oil.
According to Dr Vinegar, Israel has the second-biggest oil shale deposits in the world, outside the US: "We estimate that there is the equivalent of 250 billion barrels of oil here. To put that in context, there are proven reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil in Saudi Arabia."

...According to Dr Vinegar, IEI, which is owned by the American telecoms group IDT Corp, hopes to begin production on a commercial basis by the end of the decade, with a view to producing 50,000 barrels per day at the outset. This would be a fraction of the 270,000bpd consumed daily by Israel, but would be a significant step towards making the country energy-independent. _Australian
The Israeli oil shale project is still in early development, but the massive global reserves of oil shales suggest that eventually someone will develop a cheap and clean way of developing this resource.

One possible direction to look is the new "ionic liquid" approach which is being developed for use with Canadian oil sands. Ionic liquids are an area of exciting research for energy and industrial use.
• Laboratory studies show ILs [Ionic Liquids, ed.] have potential for application in a number of energy-related areas:
1. Liquefaction, gasification and chemical modification of solid fuels (coal, oil shale, kerogen), biomass at temperatures below 400°C. (e.g., Patell 1993, Keol et al. 2001)
a. Reduction of viscosity, molecular weight of components in heavy oil (Johnson 2002)
b. Coals can be dissolved in chloroaluminate(III) IL, reacted (acylated) for liquifaction and desulfurization (Boesmann et al. 2001)
c. Acidification of petroleum wells (Fu and Card, US Patent 6,350,721)
2. Sweetening of sour gas (replacement for amine scrubbing)
a. Absorption of H2S and CO2 (Brennecke & Maginn US patent 6,579,343)
b. Mercaptan removal (O’Rear et al. Patent WO2002034863)
3. Optimization for high-octane fuel additives – Use of nickel catalyst solvated in IL in formation of 2,3-dimethylbutenes from propene (e.g., Chauvin and Olivier-Bourbigou 1995)
4. Environmental removal of contaminants from waste streams. ... Adsorption of CO2 and other compounds from gas streams (Brennecke and
Maginn 2003)... _Chemicalvision2020 PDF

Neoteric Solvents in Oil Shales PDF

Reversible Ionic Liquids for Energy Applications PDF

The possibilities seem endless for the application of these solvents, for separating and purifying a wide range of substances, as well as for catalysis of a number of processes. Their use in oil sands and oil shale are likely to be among the least important uses for this class of substance.

The main thing to remember is that these new chemical and industrial tools can reduce the need for water and energy in the extraction and processing of unconventional fuels -- and a whole lot more.

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