Unconventional Oil Production: Stuck in a Rock and a Hard Place

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Letter Writer:

Henry Corder, investment adviser in New Orleans

Date Posted:

Aug. 9, 2010

Letter:

This article seems correct in what it covers. But it is also incomplete and out-of-date because it fails to discuss recent successful development of oil shales in the Niobrara and Bakken formations using conventional drilling and fracturing techniques. Accounts of operations in these two new areas have been very promising, describing potential of significant oil production being developed over the next several years without the environmental problems that nag oil sands and the mining of oil shale. This is outstanding news for U.S. oil production. Perhaps a followup article would be in order for the benefit of your readers.

Response
from Authors
of Article,
Kristie
Engemann
and
Michael
Owyang:

Thank you for your interest in our article "Unconventional Oil Production." Our goal was to give a broad overview of production from oil sands and oil shale and, specifically, the feasibility in an economic sense. We are aware of potentially new technology to develop unconventional oil, but due to publication lags, we relied on older studies for our sources.

If you would like to share more up-to-date information, please send it and perhaps we can post it.


Letter Writer:

John Sturges, director of investments at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York

Date Posted:

Aug. 31, 2010

Letter:

I am curious as to your source of information as Suncor, the Canadian company, has indicated that it is profitable when oil is above $41/bbl while this article indicates that the level is above $70/bbl. Can you clarify?

Authors' response:

Thank you for your interest. We wrote that existing Canadian oil sands operations could be economically feasible even with oil prices of less than $50 per barrel, while new operations would require at least $70 per barrel. We obtained this information from:
McColl, David. "The Eye of the Beholder: Oil Sands Calamity or Golden Opportunity?" Canadian Energy Research Institute, Oil Sands Briefing, February 2009.


Letter Writer:

Ben de Mayo, professor emeritus of physics, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Ga.

Date Posted:

Aug. 31, 2010

Letter:

I read with great interest the article "Unconventional Oil Production" in July's Regional Economist. Concerning oil sands, you may be interested to know that over a year ago, my students and I developed a method of separating oil from oil sand that uses no water and only 25 percent of the energy of the conventional separation method. Even though you might think that this development would be of interest to the oil producers in Alberta, and even though I have written and e-mailed all of the "players" that I could identify (over 50), plus the Albertan government, my method has generated little or no interest at all by the oil sand operators. This is especially puzzling since merely investigating this waterless, low energy (shall we say "green"?) technique would address some of the most serious issues that the oil companies are facing in Alberta.

My patent application number is 20100096298, and I will be happy to share the lab results, machine description (the machine has only one moving part), scale-up calculations, and more. My e-mail is bdemayo@westga.edu.

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