Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Quick Martha, hand me the wooden stake!

I thought I put oil shale safely to bed in the 80s, when I demonstrated in a video documentary the only successful oil shale retorting operation in the world: the runaway fire under the spent shale fines pile at the Book Cliffs mine near Rifle, Colorado.

Yep, kerogen (not oil) was seeping from the pile into the Colorado River.

They closed down the whole operation shortly after that boondoggle was cleared up, deciding it was all a bad deal that took more energy to process than could be derived from the kerogen. Not to mention shale piles twice as large as the shale dug out of the mountain.

Nope, oil shale is an energy sink. No amount of $3.00 a gallon gas can change that. Tar sands is good for what it suggests: surfacing roads right out of the ground.

Just gonna have to get used to the idea: there's only so much oil that can be pumped out of the ground for less energy than comes from the oil. After that, it's a downhill, mighty slippery slope.

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