White House looking to sell half of its strategic oil reserves

The US Government is proposing to sell off half of the 687.7 million barrels in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of (more…)

Giant wind turbines go online near Liverpool

Some 32 massive wind turbines have recently been completed in an extension to the Burbo Bank windfarm in the Liverpool Bay, reinforcing the (more…)

Russia and Saudi Arabia promise deal extension but US inventories remain high

Oil prices received a boost as Russia and Saudi Arabia gave the strongest indication yet that the OPEC-led production cuts will (more…)

Lubrication experts and customers meet at Shell Technology Forum

Shell’s lubrication experts recently met with almost 150 industrial customers from around Europe to discuss how (more…)

Dutch offshore wind farm opens in the North Sea

A giant offshore wind farm has come online in the North Sea some 53 miles off the northern coast of the (more…)

Oil sands: An unconventional oil source

Oil sands are a combination of sand, clay, water and bitumen, which is a sticky, black and highly viscous form of petroleum. Bitumen acts rather like cold molasses at room temperature and is generally too thick to be pumped without diluting or heating it first.

Oil sands can be found in many countries, but they’re most associated with (more…)

US rig count continues to grow

The number of producing oil and gas rigs in the US increased by another seven on Friday, May 5, according to Baker Hughes, an oilfield service provider.

This marks the 16th straight build for (more…)

Will the world’s oil ever run out?

As fossil fuels, oil and gas are inevitably finite resources, yet we will not be running out of them anytime soon. In 2015, oil major BP predicted that despite booming consumption, global oil reserves would double by 2050. This may be very welcome, because ExxonMobil, which makes slideway lubricant Mobil Vactra 2, predicts in its Outlook for Energy that carbon-based fuels will continue to provide roughly three quarters of the world’s energy needs through to (more…)

Shale oil is not always tight oil

There’s a lot of talk about the booming shale oil industry in North America, but this would be more accurately referred to as tight oil, which is crude oil from oil-bearing shales.

Shale oil can also refer to another unconventional oil that is produced from oil shale. Industrial processes can extract the organic matter from this and convert it into oil or gas, which can then be used directly as a fuel or upgraded for use as feedstock in the petrochemical industry.

Shale oil actually has a long history, with the earliest recorded use being in Austria and Switzerland in the 14th century. It was also used for street lighting in Modena, Italy in the 17th century. The first industrial processes were introduced in the mid-19th century in France and Scotland, where Scottish chemist James Young developed a method to distil paraffin from oil shale. Despite facing cheap petroleum imports from the Middle East in the early 20th century, the Scottish oil shale industry persisted until 1962.

The United States also had a thriving oil shale industry in the 19th century, and shale oil was regarded as the norm rather than unconventional oil. The situation reversed after the Drake Well hit oil in 1859. With cheap petroleum flooding the market, lamp oil refiners switched to this new, cheaper raw material.

Despite hosting the world’s largest oil shale resource, the US has never had a viable oil shale industry since then. Over the course of the 20th century, high oil prices have periodically triggered renewed interest in shale oil in the US. Unfortunately for the industry, high oil prices also led to increased exploration for new crude oil reserves, and higher crude production inevitably led to lower prices killing off shale oil each time.

High production costs have always been an issue for shale oil. Oil needs to be extracted from oil shale through pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution, so the energy needed for extraction offsets some of the energy value of the recovered oil. Most shale oil is currently produced by mining shale and processing it in a retorting facility, but some experimental in-situ techniques exist. ExxonMobil, which makes Mobil DTE Oil Heavy Medium, developed the Electrofrac process, which involves injecting electrically conductive material into fractures to form an underground heating element.

While the worldwide production of shale oil is currently dwarfed by that of conventional oil, it represents a huge potential resource if improved technology and higher oil prices ever make it economically feasible again.

Shell announces improved first quarter results

Royal Dutch Shell has announced an increase in its Q1 profits, with those on a cost of supplies basis up 142% to $3.8bn on the same quarter last year.

Shell’s results follow a (more…)

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