Utah's oil shale really is fool's gold

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  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Nov. 29, 2012 7:06 a.m.

    "Surely $40 billion invested in developing a way to extract oil from shale would produce results."

    Surely? How about possibly.

    If, and that is a big IF, we could spend $40B and come up with an economically viable way to get at this oil, it would be the best money ever spent.

    But, to think it is a forgone conclusion is delusional.

    Just cause we spend lots of money does not guarantee results.

    Solyndra is proof of that.

    What if $40B had been sunk into Oil Shale and the project was a bust. Would the right been OK with it?

    Just wondering.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Nov. 29, 2012 12:41 a.m.

    My solar panels give me electricity at 6 cents per Kwh when the cost is amorticized over 30 years. The utility company charges me 13 cents Kwh with taxes and delivery charges included.

    The reason you alwasy hear the press say that solar isn't viable is because the wholsale rate for electricity is 1 Kwh so for them it isn't viable to be able to make that 1200% markup they are so used to.

    Shale is a big red herring of the right wing propaganda machine.

  • Corn Dog New York, NY
    Nov. 28, 2012 11:36 p.m.

    @one old man & @Noodlekaboodle

    You both are confusing crude oil with products produced from crude oil like gasoline and diesel. Last year the US imported 45% of the crude we used and exported no crude. Some of the products made from that imported crude were exported, mostly to Canada and Mexico whom we imported lots of crude from.

    The letter writer misses the point. This is an R&D project, no different than algae fuel, carbon sequestration, switch grass ethanol, or any of a myriad of other such projects. None of these are now viable, but may be in the future. Increasing environmentalists' opposition to other sources of petroleum fuels, like the Keystone XL pipeline, conventional oil production in ANWR, on federal land in Utah, offshore, etc, only makes oil shale projects more feasible.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 5:59 p.m.

    The article is correct, shale extraction is dirty, inefficient, energy and water hungry, and costly. Worse than the athabasca tar sands. There's just not the kind of return that makes it feasible. But people still want it.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 28, 2012 3:14 p.m.

    To "airnaut" I hate to tell you this, but the oil companies are the biggest researchers into alternative energy sources. They have to be because they know that oil is limited.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    Nov. 28, 2012 2:34 p.m.

    Deep Space 9, Ut

    The only fool is the person who doesn't admit that we have an energy source that can be used now to fuel our future until we figure out a better energy source (we are getting there, but have not arrived yet).

    1:30 p.m. Nov. 28, 2012


    If it's so easy, as you say -
    And only a fool doesn't admit it, as you say -

    Why don't you do it?

    Why not do somehthing no other greedy Oil Corporation, with all the money in the world at their disposal , and an army of Scientisits, Geologists, Chemists, and Engineers have failed to do for the last 75 years.

    You seem to have all the in your little corner of Enterprise Utah.
    Do it!

    Save the World and retire in your Capitalist Utopian Heaven.

    BTW - a real fool is one who says something is easier said, than done.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 28, 2012 1:30 p.m.

    Nice opinion, but unfortunately it has no basis in reality or even science. Even the GAO knows how much oil is recoverable in Utah. See "Trillions of Barrels of Recoverable Oil in Colorado, Utah: GAO" in teh Colorado Observer or read "What is Oil Shale?" at the Institute for Energy Research. Even they point out that there is currently 1 Trillion barrels of recoverable oil using current technology.

    The only fool is the person who doesn't admit that we have an energy source that can be used now to fuel our future until we figure out a better energy source (we are getting there, but have not arrived yet).

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 12:26 p.m.

    So what's the repub solution to keep the oil in the United States rather than being sold to Asia?

    Oh wait, they have none.

    Jeez, can you folks really be this dense? It's no wonder why you're losing so much ground so quickly politically. You're losing middle America every single day yet seem too lost in the forest to do anything about it.

  • Noodlekaboodle Millcreek, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 11:58 a.m.

    So how does drilling for oil in tar sands help US energy independence? Last year we produced more oil than we consumed in the US. Yet we still used a decent chunk of foreign oil. Unless laws are passed than ban selling oil unless all US needs are satisfied, tariff's are levied or oil production is nationalized we will never have energy independence. So how do you recommend that we do this? Also, how is oil shale doable in Utah? It needs a massive amount of water(not a commodity we have a major surplus of in Utah, and these oil sands aren't energy rich compared to the Canadian oil sands, meaning even more energy is required to extract them. Finally, while I know most republicans don't care, google pictures of Canadian Oil Sands and tell me you really want thousands of acres in Utah too look like that.

  • Demo Dave Holladay, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 11:44 a.m.

    I already knew that oil shale wasn't a viable source of oil, but I still learned a lot from this article. I especially like this statement: "...during a cold snap, you'd have to heat 400 pounds of rocks each day, while disposing of 300 pounds of gritty ash. Come spring, your yard would be a Superfund site." In spite of this fact, I'm betting that the greedy fools in the energy industry and our state legislature will push to plunder as much of our public lands as possible in this futile venture, not because it's smart or feasible, but just because they can.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 11:37 a.m.

    You missed the point, Mike.

    You blame government interference for everything, but miss the point when you fail to consider that additional drilling in America will do little or nothing to solve the price of oil or the amount available for American use.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Nov. 28, 2012 10:43 a.m.

    I love it when a scientist and industry expert writes a sound artilce such as this --

    to counter whatever non-sense the gullible listen to from college-drop-out talking heads on AM hate radio.

    Thanks DN for publishing this.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Nov. 28, 2012 10:27 a.m.

    Mike Richards

    The point of the letter is that shale is not viable (sort of like fuel from corn - the output is little more than the input).

    “Government . . . never been the answer. The more it meddles, the worse off we all are.”

    Hoover Dam, the Marshall Plan, food inspections, yeah, good thing govt. never got involved in those things . . .

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Nov. 28, 2012 10:07 a.m.

    @ One old man,

    If the government interferes with a private company selling its products to buyers outside the United States, then what could happen to all of the companies that sell products to foreign buyers?

    The goal of business is to sell a product to the highest bidder. A business is not obligated to sell its product to the lowest bidder.

    Shale is viable. We have enough oil shale to last for more than the time that it will take to find and product a viable alternative. Putting artificial limits on the companies that extract that oil will keep them from producing oil just as effectively as restricting a dairy to only sell its milk to people living within ten miles of the dairy.

    Government is not the answer. It has never been the answer. The more it meddles, the worse off we all are.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 9:25 a.m.

    Mike, with all due respect there is a third option.

    That would be to stop allowing American oil to be shipped overseas where our oil companies may charge more for it than the market will bear here.

    Remember that the United States now EXPORTS much the oil produced here. Any new oil supplies will also the subject to exportation.

    How will that help solve the problem?

    (Answer: It won't, but it will keep the oil company profit margins up where they want it.)

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 9:19 a.m.

    It's not my line, but it bears repeating: Oil shale is the fuel of the future and always will be.

    In the current market (and all foreseeable ones), it doesn't make economic sense to spend more than a buck to produce a buck's worth of energy. It doesn't make energetic sense to use more than a Btu to produce a Btu. Until oil shale developers can figure out how to separate the hydrocarbon from the rock without infusing vast quantities of capital, energy, and water into the process, shale oil will never be a good deal and there are cheaper and cleaner alternatives. Until that time, Western Slope residents still reeling from Black Sunday decades ago will continue to sport the "Lord, just give us one more energy boom. We promise not to [deleted] it away this time" bumper stickers. Some lessons are slow to learn. It's time to hitch the economic wagon to another horse.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Nov. 28, 2012 9:06 a.m.

    Oil shale contains oil. The problem is finding an economical way to extract the oil. Using "usual" methods may not be productive, but there are methods that will be discovered WHEN companies are allowed to harvest that oil.

    Obama spent $40 billion chasing rainbows when he "gave" money to Solydra and other (green" companies. He was willing to invest heavily in those companies with OUR tax dollars. Surely $40 billion invested in developing a way to extract oil from shale would produce results. The return on investment is excellent, whether the investor is the government or whether it is a private business.

    Burying your head in the sand will not produce oil. Telling us that there are obstacles will not produce oil. Holding meetings and riling up the public will not produce oil.

    There are two choices: (1) Learn how to produce oil. (2) Keep spending $1 billion PER DAY for foreign oil.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Nov. 28, 2012 9:04 a.m.

    Okay censors, third try:

    Warning, Readers. This opinion piece contains Science.

    Remember that science is dangerous and can disrupt conservative thought patterns.

    Cover your eyes and turn the page immediately lest your mind be contaminated by facts.

  • Bart Tippetts Salt Lake City, Utah
    Nov. 28, 2012 8:01 a.m.

    Utah Tar Sands Resistance


    7 PM Thursday December 13th @ SLC Main Library
    conference room 'C'
    Salt Lake City Public Library 210 E 400 S

    Join us for a slide show and power point presentation about proposed tar sands mining in the scenic Book Cliffs of Utah. Hundreds of thousands of acres of high desert forest and animal habitat in Utah has been targeted for tar sands and oil shale mining. Risks include deforestation, ground water pollution, rapid destruction of wilderness, toxic spills and enormous greenhouse gas emissions. Tar Sands mining has been labeled the “World's most destructive project”. Let's stop this short sighted plan before it gets started.