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ShellNews.net: Back-tracking by Shell on Colorado oil shale connected with Gale Norton allegations?

By John Donovan

Sunday 17 June 2007

Royal Dutch Shell has for some time been hyping the potential of recovering oil and gas from oil shale in Colorado using technology developed by Shell.

For example, in an article written by Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer which was published in the Financial Times newspaper on Wednesday 25 January 2006, he talked of testing an environmentally sensitive way of unlocking the large potential of oil shale in Colorado using electric heaters to heat the rock formation and release light oil and gas.

As recently as March 2007 Shell was still talking up the prospects of using the same technology. The following is an extract from information posted in March on www.shell.com

“Our quarter of a century investment researching Shell’s patented In situ Conversion Process has yielded exciting results. Shell carried out a small field test known as the Mahogany Demonstration Project South on its private property in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, using an in-ground heating process to recover oil and gas from the shale formation. On only a 30 x 40 foot testing area, Shell successfully recovered 1,700 barrels of high quality light oil plus associated gas from shallower, less-concentrated oil shale layers, determining our technological design works?”

Such encouraging news has obviously been beneficial to Shell’s share price particularly during the period following the reserves fraud when Shell had inflated its true hydrocarbon reserves by nearly a third.

So why the sudden back-tracking as reported today in The Denver Post?

Is it by any chance connected with the controversy surrounding Gale Norton, the recently appointed General Counsel for Shell Oil’s unconventional resources unit which includes oil shale development?

In May 2007, a Denver-based advocacy group called for a federal investigation of the relationship between former Secretary of the Interior Norton and Royal Dutch Shell’s oil shale operations in Colorado.

The group alleged that Norton may have used her influence at the federal agency to approve Shell’s leases in Colorado, followed by Shell hiring Norton as a general counsel.

Norton resigned from the Interior agency in March 2006. Shell was awarded the federal leases in November 2006. Shell hired Norton in December 2006.

The above incorporates information about the Gale Norton/Shell controversy reported in The Denver Post on 9 May 2007.

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