Shale Oil: the Next Energy Revolution - by Digital SLEN team (source : internet)
Shale oil extraction
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What's Oil Shale? 

Oil shale, also known as kerogen shale, is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons called shale oil (not to be confused with tight oil—crude oil occurring naturally in shales) can be produced. Shale oil is a substitute for conventional crude oil; however, extracting shale oil from oil shale is more costly than the production of conventional crude oil both financially and in terms of its environmental impact. Deposits of oil shale occur around the world, including major deposits in the United States. Estimates of global deposits range from 2.8 to 3.3 trillion barrels (450×109 to 520×109 m3) of recoverable oil.

Heating oil shale to a sufficiently high temperature causes the chemical process of pyrolysis to yield a vapor. Upon cooling the vapor, the liquid shale oil—an unconventional oil—is separated from combustible oil-shale gas (the term shale gas can also refer to gas occurring naturally in shales). Oil shale can also be burned directly in furnaces as a low-grade fuel for power generation and district heating or used as a raw material in chemical and construction-materials processing.

Oil shale gains attention as a potential abundant source of oil whenever the price of crude oil rises. At the same time, oil-shale mining and processing raise a number of environmental concerns, such as land use, waste disposal, water use, waste-water management, greenhouse-gas emissions and air pollution. Estonia and China have well-established oil shale industries, and Brazil, Germany, and Russia also utilize oil shale.

General composition of oil shales constitutes inorganic matrix, bitumens, and kerogen. Oil shales differ from oil-bearing shales, shale deposits that contain petroleum (tight oil) that is sometimes produced from drilled wells. Examples of oil-bearing shales are the Bakken Formation, Pierre Shale, Niobrara Formation, and Eagle Ford Formation.

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Shale Gas - Hydraulic Fracturing Process

The global impact of shale oil could revolutionise the world’s energy markets
Shale oil:  

The global impact of shale oil could revolutionise the world’s energy markets over the next couple of decades, resulting in significantly lower oil prices, higher global GDP, changing geopolitics and shifting business models for oil and gas companies, according to new analysis from PwC.

The potential availability and accessibility of significant resources of shale oil around the globe - and the potential effect of increased shale oil production in limiting growth in global oil prices - has implications that stretch far beyond the oil industry.


Shale oil has the potential to reshape the global economy, increasing energy security, independence and affordability in the long term. However, these benefits need to be squared with broader environmental objectives at both the local and global level.

The effects of a lower oil price resonate along the entire energy value chain, and investment choices based on long-term predictions of a steady increase in real oil prices may need to be reassessed. The potential magnitude of the impact of shale oil makes it a profound force for change in energy markets and the wider global economy. It is therefore critical for companies and policy-makers to consider the strategic implications of these changes now.

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Environmental impact of the oil shale industry 

Environmental impact of the oil shale industry includes the consideration of issues such as land use, waste management, and water and air pollution caused by the extraction and processing of oil shale. Surface mining of oil shale deposits causes the usual environmental impacts of open-pit mining. In addition, the combustion and thermal processing generate waste material, which must be disposed of, and harmful atmospheric emissions, including carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. Experimental in-situ conversion processes and carbon capture and storage technologies may reduce some of these concerns in future, but may raise others, such as the pollution of groundwater.

Read more on Environmental impact of the oil shale industry

Environmental Impact of Oil Shale
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