Worlds Largest Beds of Oil Shales Remain Protected
Oil locked in shales situated on Federal lands in the Rocky Mountains are not likely to be tapped any time soon.
“I don’t know when we’ll see commercial development on public lands,” Steve Black, counsel for Interior Secretary announced at the Unconventional Fuels Conference. “It’s an industry that is not ready for prime time.”
A 2005 study by the Rand Corporation estimated that sedimentary rock in the corner where Utah borders Colorado and Wyoming called the Green River Formation contains an untapped 800 billion barrels. That’s three times the size of Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves.
World-renowned geologist Walter Youngquist called the oil beneath the Green River Formation, “a national treasure.”
Nevertheless, in February 2009, Salazar scrapped land leases designed to enable oil developers to tap oil from 1.9 million acres of the range, saying “I am withdrawing that Jan. 14 solicitation because in my view it was a midnight decision, and it was flawed.”
Fuel developers allege that the Obama administration has blocked progress of drilling in the potentially kerogen-rich shale. They believe that the White House is reluctant to endorse drilling for oil generally, and that the Green River Formation shales in particular have been blacklisted.
Yesterday, Black denied that Salazar and President Obama are red-lighting all oil projects. “This administration supports responsible development of all energy resources in the right place and at the right time,” said Black.
“He has never said privately or publicly that his intention is to kill oil shale,” Black added. “We’re not trying to pick winners or losers.”