Industry has been using Oil Shale to make the wrong end product
Big oil and others have spent billions of dollars to exploit the potential of Oil Shale and the Kerogen it contains. Heating the kerogen under the right conditions (in a way what mother nature does for free in producing conventional crude) produces a synthetic crude. The crude would then be sent to existing refineries for processing along with other conventional and tight oil crudes to yield primarily fuels, but also some petrochemicals. These projects require tens of thousands of barrels per day to meet the processing requirements of existing refineries. Consequently these efforts have involved large mining operations, required major infrastructure and are generally capital-intensive projects.
Since the synthetic crude oil created from Kerogen is higher in contaminants, which among other issues poison the catalysts used in conventional oil refineries is has a lower value than conventional crudes. Processing this synthetic crude oil in existing refineries also results in higher emissions, lower energy efficiency and much greater use of water. Given the capital and operating costs processing synthetic crude is only economically viable under unique circumstances.
Dragon does not look at oil shale as simply a raw material to make commodity gasoline and diesel, but as a rich mix of potential high value products. As the market share of alternative sources of energy increase, the need for fuels is expected to decline. Our studies indicate that by producing high value products oil shale will become an important, secure, cost effective and reliable source of industrially important products in the near and intermediate term. Existing oil shale projects have overlooked these high value derivative products which are unique to retorted Kerogen.
Our facilities are also available to process oil shale from owners of such resources worldwide. Such testing can determine preliminary product slate and economics for the oil shales tested. Our novel conversion device is available for this work along with spinning band distillation for precise separation of products. On-site analytical equipment including GC/MS is available to determine in detail product compositions. Through our partners and contacts in industry and academia we have access to a range of other analytical procedures. Dragon Shale welcomes opportunities to work with others in conducting specialized experimental research and development.
On-going research and development will lead to a new generation of plant
The plan is for future scale up but with plant sizes that facilitate modular construction for shipping and assembly on site at the source of the oil shale resource.
These small modular, energy efficient, low capital cost plants producing high value products will have excellent economics. As such they should be attractive to both resource owners and manufacturers looking for low cost feedstock. Such plants will also be much more environmentally favorable with a low carbon footprint and low impact on local infrastructure. Dragon Shale welcomes enquiries from interested parties looking to undertake commercial joint ventures and on identifying suitable oil shale resources.
CUOS and Dragon Shale plan for full scale demonstration
Looking forward Dragon Shale plans to construct and operate a full scale demonstration plant. So, in parallel with technology development Dragon has been looking for an ideal location for its first commercial venture. Key considerations are a high kerogen content oil shale resource which is easily accessible at or near the surface. Infrastructure including proximity to suitable roads, power, pipelines and water. Space for easy siting of process plant and facilities both during construction and operation. If possible a privately owned resource that is not subject to special scenic, endangered species or natural value reducing state and local environmental and legal considerations. Local, regional and state support in an economically depressed area was also a factor.
Taking all these considerations into account the first such project we have identified is on land privately owned by CUOS in eastern Utah. Our intention is to design, build and operate a plant with an expected lifetime of twenty years and total revenue exceeding $5B.