Oil shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that contains significant amounts of a hydrocarbon called “kerogen.” When heated and processed, kerogen becomes a light liquid hydrocarbon called “shale oil.” We can refine shale oil into gasoline, diesel, jet fuels, and other valuable petroleum products.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that over 1.5 trillion barrels of oil are locked in the shale deposits of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. By comparison, Saudi Arabia has about 265 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves.
Technology will be the key to creating a sustainable commercial oil shale industry in the United States. Dozens of companies, universities, national laboratories, and public agencies are now researching various methods of extracting this massive resource.
If the United States can develop even a fraction of its oil shale resources – in an economical and environmentally responsible manner - economies, governments, and energy markets around the World will change radically.
However, we should only develop this resource if it can be done in a manner that environmentally and socially responsible.