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Nine minutes of oil

Published September 6, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Re: "Uintah Basin oil shale project on track for permit" (Tribune, Aug. 31), there are a number of questions regarding the retorting process and its ultimate benefit.

How much time and natural gas is required to heat the shale up to the required temperature of 725 degrees? And how much more gas is required to maintain this temperature for 90 consecutive days?

The article states: "the company's process doesn't use water." Yet Red Leaf's own website states: "RLR anticipates that approximately eight gallons of water will be required to produce a barrel of oil using the EcoShale™ In-Capsule Technology."

Finally, 800 million barrels of oil produced over 20 years is equivalent to 110,000 barrels per day. Sounds like a lot, but we in the U.S. consume that much oil in nine minutes (plus or minus a minute).

So Red Leaf wants to burn natural gas to heat and squeeze oil out of rocks, and then transport the oil (via diesel) to refineries in Utah to produce, among other things, diesel. I can think of better ways to use natural gas.

When the free market meets the wilderness, the wilderness usually suffers, both in the short and long term. And all for nine minutes of oil.

Christopher Cherniak

Vice president, Eco Advisors

Park City