Companies fund oil shale research center

GOLDEN — The Colorado School of Mines has created a new oil shale research center thanks to funding from three energy companies.

The school announced the creation of the Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research (COSTAR) during an oil shale symposium at its campus this week.

The center has a budget of $900,000 per year and is being funded by Total Exploration and Production, Shell Exploration & Production and ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co.

The center’s two major research goals are helping develop oil shale resources to boost global energy supplies and minimizing the environmental impacts of oil shale development.

It plans to integrate research efforts and provide technical review, education and communication related to oil shale development. One project will be developing a global database of information that will be accessible over the Internet.

The push for the center came because of oil shale resources in the Green River Formation,  according to an abstract of a presentation scheduled for today by Jeremy Boak, the center’s director.

The Green River Formation is Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, with the richest resources in northwest Colorado.

The center will be part of the Colorado Energy Research Institute at the school, and will work in cooperation with other universities, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the U.S. Geological Survey in Lakewood.

Boak said the center’s creation is coming at a time of an apparent resurgence of interest in oil shale.

About 350 energy industry representatives, academic researchers and others from around the world are attending this week’s symposium, which Boak is chairing.

The research will focus on such topics as the characteristics of oil shale rock and how the rock fractures during heating to remove oil, and the geological history during which the substances that later became oil shale were deposited in lakes, controlling its distribution.

“It’s essentially research in the field, on the computer, in the lab,” Boak said.


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