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Not ready for prime time

Oil shale is not ready for prime time, but don’t just take our word for it …

Despite what gets said by oil industry lobbyists in a staged hearing or by politicians out on the campaign trail, the oil shale industry itself and energy experts have gone on record that a commercial scale oil shale industry is nowhere near a reality.

Shell Oil, corporate website, accessed April 24, 2012

A commercial [oil shale] decision would be middle of the next decade and possibly later depending on the sequence and outcome of research activities.

Jeremy Boak, director, Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research, Colorado School of Mines, E&E News, November 18, 2011

It isn’t obvious to me yet that we need to be putting a bunch of commercial leases out there because no one has a commercial process yet… I don’t see anybody eager to go out and lease land now when they’re still running experiments.

Gene Whitney, Ph.D., manager, energy research, Congressional Research Service, House Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing, March 17, 2011

We did not do a technically recoverable [oil shale] resource estimate because there isn’t one technology yet that is proven.


Memo by ExxonMobil, Colorado Springs Gazette, November 23, 2011

Many years of research and development will be required to demonstrate the technical, environmental, and economic feasibility of (oil shale) technology.

Tom Yelverton, ExxonMobil, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, November 11, 2010

At best, commercial production is a decade away and most likely more.

Patrick McGinn, ExxonMobil, Colorado Independent, October 15, 2010

We plan to evaluate our in situ technology called Electrofrac thoroughly over several years before making any decisions on commercial projects.

Glenn Vawter, director, National Oil Shale Association, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, March 31, 2008

The short answer is that I don’t think we will see anyone embark on a commercial project for well into the next decade.

Tracy Boyd, Shell Oil, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, November 11, 2008

In fact, it could take up to 10 to 12 years of additional research, environmental analysis and permitting before a company could develop a federal oil shale lease.