March 01, 2014

Oil Shale Is Not Shale Oil

Jean Feriancek

In September 2013, oil company Royal Dutch Shell plc announced that it was shutting down its Mahogany oil shale pilot project in western Colorado, after decades of oil shale research. Prior to that, Shell was the biggest player, holding three of the eight federal oil shale Research, Demonstration, and Development (RD&D) leases. Those leases were issued pursuant to Section 369 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), which sought to encourage research and development of oil shale resources on public lands. Four oil shale RD&D leases remain in effect, held by EGL Resources, Inc.; ExxonMobil Exploration Company; Enefit (which is wholly owned by the government of Estonia, a country that produces most of its electricity from oil shale); and Natural Soda Holdings, Inc. Chevron USA, Inc. relinquished its RD&D lease in 2012.

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