Energy company, mine to discuss oil shale

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The impact of energy and energy-related businesses in Craig is the focus of the Northwest Colorado Energy Producers Association meetings, where guest speakers update the community on issues and insights into the energy business.

On Aug. 3, beginning with cocktails at 5:30 p.m., a presentation hosted by Rio Tinto Energy America- the Colowyo Mine, will bring together mine workers, contractors, supporters and vendors to hear a guest speaker discuss oil shale projects.

Tracy Boyd, with Shell Exploration & Production Co. will speak on current and upcoming projects in the area.

"We've been doing research and development for 10 years in Northwest Colorado," Boyd said. "We've applied for Bureau of Land Management leases, and when we've gotten those, we'll begin our final research testing in the field."

That testing will prove the technologies' effectiveness, sometime near the end of this decade, Boyd said.

The old way that oil shale was processed included mining and crushing the shale to extract oil from the rock, Boyd said, saying the procedure was, "not the optimal process."

New technology heats the shale while still underground from 650 to 700 degrees, a process that takes a few years, before extracting the oil and gas products.

That allows for harvesting the oil and gas from a well, instead of removing 1,000 feet of earth.

"It wouldn't be feasible to mine areas such as Piceance Basin, where the shale is 1,000 feet deep," Boyd said. "We've had successful tests of the heat process."

Shell's Mahogany Oil Shale Research Project-Technology to Secure our Energy Future is the title of the presentation Boyd will be making at the dinner. Shell already has exploration wells in the Piceance Basin in Rio Blanco County, and testing continues there and on private property to ensure the process will protect and contain ground water at those locations.

After being granted BLM leases, Shell will have to demonstrate to the BLM that the oil-extracting technology is sound, Boyd said.

If the leases are approved, the BLM will conduct environmental impact studies, and there will be 30 days for public comments on the leasing of the land.

From 60 to 100 people usually attend the Energy Producers dinners.

The cost is $28 per person, with dinner beginning at 6:30 and the presentation starting at 8 p.m. Interested individuals can contact Janice Nicoletto at 824-4411, ext. 4554 to make reservations.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com

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