Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image No Problem? Shell’s Patent Application for Oil Shale Extraction

By Joe Katzman
April 19, 2007


*Alfred Donovan, a patent lawyer whose blog covers Royal Dutch Shell, takes a look at the largest patent filing in history. Shell thinks they have a sound method for getting top quality oil out of oil shale rock, which would remain profitable as long as oil stayed above $30/barrel. If it works, it would also be better for the environment than conventional drilling.

If they’re right, the US would add a truly vast amount of oil to its reserves. Indeed, the USA accounts for 62% of the world oil shale resources, and USA, Russia and Brazil together account for 86% in terms of shale oil content. Other countries with significant oil shale include, in order, Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Morocco, Italy, Jordan and Canada (we’re focused on the tar sands, so haven’t fully explored), among others. Then there’s Israel.

Donovan is something of a gadfly re: Shell, and has been embroiled in a number of activist run-ins with them (gotta say, registering and then winning the rights to gets him some points with me). He thinks Shell’s technique will work, and notes that Shell has been granted rights to a small patch of shale field in Colorado to make an experimental run with its new method.

I certainly hope this one works out for Shell. If not, however, they aren’t the only ones putting research dollars into economical processes.

* Comment by Alfred Donovan. I have not got a clue how Joe Katzman reached the conclusion that I am a Patent lawyer. This is incorrect. The news story he is referring to can be found at… and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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