Sun Feb 22nd, 2009 at 06:23:04 PM EST
Interesting article in the newspaper today:
With one eye cast toward home, giant European energy companies are investing billions in U.S. natural-gas and oil fields where huge, hard-to-get reserves have been unlocked with new drilling technology.
At least three European oil and gas giants are developing or have bought interests in oil and gas shale projects in the U.S. -- Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro, the U.S. unit of British oil company BP Plc and the French company Total.
StatoilHydro and BP have agreed in recent months to pay billions of dollars for stakes in shale gas projects from the top U.S. producer of gas, Chesapeake Energy. Total has bought a 50 percent stake in a U.S. company exploring for oil shale in the Rocky Mountains.
Shale gas, maybe. Shale "oil?" More like snake oil.
First, there's tons of it. Huge gigantic spreads of desert mountains with shale "oil" deposits thousands of meters thick. Energy reserves so gigantic that the U.S. Navy obtained rights to big chunks of it in the early 1900s as a long-range strategy for powering ships. (Later discarded in favor of nuclear power.)
But there's a problem: You can't have it. A common argument is that it costs $X to get a barrel of oil out of "oil" shale, and that if the price of oil just gets above $X then it will be economical. But it doesn't work that way, because the cost of extraction goes up in line with the cost of oil. So the right way to evaluate it is to look at the thermodynamic cost:benefit ratio, and it's not good.
Plus, there's no water here, and you need it for the extraction process. Plus, there's no electricity here. Although there's lots of wind, so we could build a huge wind energy system to supply the shale "oil" industry so they can extract the energy and sell it to us at a higher rate than the wind energy... ???
This has been discussed to death already, for example: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3969
But in any case, t looks like the European energy companies are in such a panic about their supplies that they are willing to swallow empty sales pitches from the U.S.
Or, maybe...wait, never mind, keep on sending them Euros over here! We need them!