The Bounty of Green River Formation: Hyping America’s Vast Oil Shale Reserve

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We’ve bad mouthed the use of oil because it pollutes the environment. Yet for a time, in spite of our need to clean up the atmosphere and help lessen global warming, we’re still stuck with fossil-fuel based technologies. Until we perfect our cleaner alternatives of solar, electro-magnetic, nuclear, wind, hydroelectric, hydrogen, fuel cell etcetera versus the use of oil, there’s always this temptation to tap the bowels of the earth for precious combustible hydrocarbons to fuel the world economy.

The United States of America is ambivalent about drilling, but right at the heartland, the nation which owns 25% of the world’s wealth, has a vast reserve of shale oil that boggles the imagination of dreamers, prospectors, and entrepreneurs.

Oil shale is hard to unlock and stubborn to get. That’s the downside. But if this reserve is extracted and utilized (with utmost care to spare the environment,) the benefit will not only be for Americans, but for the world as well. The fast growing economies of China and India alone have astronomically raised the world’s need for oil and there is little indication that it’s abating.

While oil shale is found in many places worldwide, by far the largest deposits in the world are found in the United States in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

The estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable; however, even a moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, the estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from the Green River Formation would last for more than 400 years.” –Oil Shale Resources of USA, Source: ostseis.anl.gov/guide/oilshale/index.cfm =0=

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