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Apen Daily News: Shell delays decision on oil shale production

From The Associated Press –
Fri 02/23/2007 10:00PM MST

RIFLE — A decision by Royal Dutch Shell on whether to begin commercial oil shale development won’t happen by the end of this decade as planned because the permit process has taken longer than expected.

Jill Davis, spokeswoman for an experimental project in western Colorado, said they’ll decide shortly after 2010 whether to proceed.

“We just need a little more time to get our test projects going on the federal leases,” she said. “Those leases took a little more time than we thought.”

Shell plans to further test its in-ground mining process that uses rows of electric heaters to cook the shale oil out of the rock and pump it to the surface.

Those tests will require a peak construction workforce of 560 workers, many of them to be housed in temporary quarters nearby.

Davis also said the company has conducted several studies on how much energy will be needed to produce shale oil at a commercial pace versus the amount of energy their process will produce.

“We’re very confident we can make three units of energy for every unit we put into the ground,” she said.

Leases for oil shale extraction issued last month were the first granted in 30 years, two decades after companies abandoned large-scale commercial efforts in western Colorado because coaxing oil out of rock was laborious and expensive. The leases were issued to Shell Frontier Oil & Gas Co., Chevron USA and EGL Resources Inc.

An estimated 100-year supply of oil is locked in rock formations under Colorado, Utah and southwest Wyoming.

Companies must still submit their plans on how they’ll protect the environment, which includes air and water quality, before permits will be issued on three, 160-acre leases in Rio Blanco County. That process will take at least a year.

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