Abstract

The high price of conventional oil and the ensuing focus on the security of hydrocarbon supplies is a clear signal for broader uses of unconventional sources of oil and gas. Organic-rich shales represent an enormous potential unconventional resource; the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates the world supply of oil shale at 2.6 trillion barrels of recoverable oil. The U.S. owns by far the largest amount (1–1.2 trillion barrels), mainly near the common borders of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado, where much of the resource occurs at a saturation of about 10% by weight in layers that are 30–300 m thick (National Petroleum Council, 2007).

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