Company plans petroleum from oil shale by 2013

A Utah company hopes to coax petroleum from oil shale as soon as 2013, possibly even 2012, by digging up the rock, lining the pit with heating tubes, replacing the rock and firing up the pipes.

The company, Red Leaf Resources, is gearing up to produce petroleum from shale on state land in Utah and now is trying to raise money to put together a commercial demonstration project.

Once it has the investors, “We believe we can do that from the time of permitting to construction in 18 to 24 months,” said Laura Nelson, vice president of energy and environment for Red Leaf Resources.

Once all its pieces are in place, the company expects to “roast” the shale for three months to bring it to the point it gives up the hydocarbon trapped within, Nelson said. That’s far shorter than the years-long heating period anticipated by many of the companies working on in situ approaches that would leave the shale undisturbed deep below the surface.

Red Leaf Resources “EcoShale in-capsule” process will be 92 percent efficient in coaxing the petroleum from the rock and use little water, about one barrel for every five barrels of high-quality oil it produces, Nelson said.

Natural gas also will be freed from the shale and used to heat the rods, Nelson said.

“We’ll be energy self-sufficient after the first cell,” she said.

At full production of 30,000 barrels a day, Red Leaf Resources can deliver its product for $20.21 per barrel, not including transportation, the company said.

While Red Leaf Resources has an ownership share in a small refinery in Green River, Utah, it’s not looking to become a major refiner, preferring to own the resource and technology needed to collect the hydrocarbons.

Red Leaf Resources is working on 17,000 acres of state-owned lands in Utah. It’s not one of the companies working on federal lands leased out for research and development.

After they’ve been heated by the EcoShale process, those lands will look much as they did before, though the mounds will be higher because of the expansion effect from the heating process, Nelson said.


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