Sunday, February 15, 2015

America’s Biggest Oil Reserve May Be in Rocks

“Oil Shale” vs. “Shale Oil”


Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Western Slopes of the Great Rocky Mountains, teams of engineers and scientists are working on an exploit of modern day alchemy: Turning rocks into oil. There lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world - more than 2 TRILLION barrels.  These rocks are so rich in an oil-like substance that some pieces will ignite when held to an open flame.

According to a U.S. Geological Survey, a scientific agency of the United States Government, that’s 4 times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. And, it’s greater than all 12 OPEC countries combined, which have proven reserves of about 911 billion barrels of oil.

As you might guess formidable technical, economic, environmental, and political challenges must be dealt with before it will be a viable resource. None-the less, the potential benefits associated with tapping such an immense domestic energy supply is hard to ignore.

Regardless of the likely adversities, the allure of freeing the oil in these oil shale rocks has convinced some of the world's largest energy companies (and dozens of their smaller counterparts) to place big bucks on the future of oil shale.

Formed millions of years ago, oil shale is the result of circumstances of high temperatures and gravitational pressure that are necessary for the creation of petroleum; trouble is the situation didn’t last long enough for the complete creation of oil.  The result is oil shale, and some folks believe advances in technology will now allow scientists and developers to finish the job that Mother Nature started.  In a “nut shell” if these rocks are heated in just the right way, oil is released and can be collected to be refined.

In-any-event some oil recovery experts and economists say that Oil shale is a wasted investment, and an unnecessary resource to harness. They say targeting Oil Shale for oil recovery is now unnecessary because there is much more excitement and attention on the Shale Oil scene.

Yes, there are certainly huge amounts of oil locked up in shale formations worldwide. In the United States alone, the “Bakken” and “Eagle Ford” shale’s contain up to 700 billion barrels, and the Green River Oil Shale lying under Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah as indicated above, has a whopping 2 trillion barrels.

Though all of these deposits are loosely referred to as “shale oil,” the Bakken and Eagle Ford oil is more precisely called “tight oil,” because it is actually a fluid oil that is trapped in the pores of shale, and it can be liberated by “fracturing” (generally called fracking) the rock to allow the oil to flow. On the other hand, the oil in the Green River shale rock is not really oil at all but a waxy like substance that is more tightly bound up with the rock; the hydrocarbon (oil) found their must be heated to around 500 ° Celsius (932 ° F.) to turn it into flowing oil.

The technology for extracting oil from deposits like the Green River shale is far more challenging (considering the numerous obstacles mentioned in paragraph 3 above) than is required to tap into tight oil, and it has yet to be profitably implemented on a significant scale. For this reason there is no credible estimate of how much oil can be recovered from the Green River formation even though geologists know within reason how much is in-place.

Producers have been trying to accomplish oil extraction in one of two ways: Either they bring the shale to the surface and then “cook” it, or they sink a deep shaft and place a really expensive electric heater at the base, a process called “in-situ”. But thus far, the American Shale Oil Corporation (AMSO) has been testing in-situ with mixed success.

Some folks say the government has known for years that this land was saturated with oil and even though it was deemed too expensive to recover, in 1930 the government placed protective legislation on this land, forbidding anyone to touch it.    Then on August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush did something right, he signed into law The Energy Policy Act; a mandate lifting the protective legislation on the Green River Formation. 

The good news may be that since the federal government owns 80% of the land containing the Green River Formation, in theory at least, this could be a major source of income via oil lease production royalties.  Considering the excessive U S National Debt, currently at 14 Trillion Dollars and counting, this could be huge!    Many economists agree that as little as 30 percent of U S Government royalty revenue from the Green River Formation could be enough to pay off the entire national debt!  Imagine that!

Now get this: Because world oil prices are low /dropping, research and development programs (R & D) for new and improved Shale Oil recovery methods are doomed to deteriorate or at best maintain the status quo!  This may be good news for the average commuter but believe it or not that’s not good news for U S Oil Shale production in the Green River Formation.  So, thank of it this way, as the price of oil falls, some U S producers will become unprofitable and go out of business.   But then the price of oil is likely to stabilize!

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has projected that US drivers will spend about $550 less on gasoline in 2015 than they did in 2014, that’s assuming prices remain low. So in theory at least, consumers will spend more money on other goods, which will improve the economy.  This projection is largely based upon a  Reuters Poll Survey taken in January of 2015 of 33 economists and analysts who forecast that North Sea Brent crude (a sweet light crude oil that serves as a benchmark price for purchases of oil worldwide) would average $58.30 a barrel in 2015.

As you can see, a fall in crude prices will have both positive and negative impacts on the typical American consumer. For many folks, it will offer a tremendous economic boost: cheaper oil means lower gasoline prices — which have fallen below $2.00 per gallon in many places.

So dropping oil prices is not all good news. Oil-producing states like Texas and North Dakota are likely to see a drop in revenues and economic activity. The falling price of oil is also putting severe pressure on Alaska’s state budget.     

All be told, oil prices are likely to be good for 42 states, and not so good in 8 states, as is shown in the illustration to the upper right.

In conclusion, it’s well worth while to further examine oil recovery methods from Oil Shale reserves, especially since the U.S. is sitting on the largest stockpile of oil shale in the world.  Oil Shale may eventually become part of the energy cycle, but by the time that it’s economically feasible, you will probably be long gone from this world.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Blue People of Hinduism

                                 . . . .            

Vishnu is a popular Hindu divine being who is the Supreme God of Vaishnavism (one of the three principal denominations of Hinduism) and one of the three supreme deities of Hinduism.  He is the Hindu god of preservation and is said to descend to earth from time to time in the form of an Avatar to restore cosmic order.   He is also known as Narayana and Hari.

You may already know that in Hinduism, an Avatar is considered a direct descendant of a deity to Earth, or a descendant of the Supreme Being, and is generally translated into English as “incarnation”, but more accurately as “appearance” or “manifestation”.

In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshipped directly or in the form of his ten (10) Avatars; the two most famous and widely known are Krishna and Rama who are usually seen as his major “appearances” or “incarnations”.   Their stories are told in two major Sanskrit Epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana; originally composed in Sanskrit and later translated into many other Indian languages.  

Regardless, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are two of the oldest surviving epic poems on earth and form part of Itihāsa (for Hindus, Itihāsa is a religious story that tells about what happened in the past), which roughly means tradition, or (oral) history. 

Yes, Sanskrit is considered the chief sacred language of Hinduism; but did you know that the skin color of Rama and Krishna was blue?  Krishna is occasionally portrayed a very dark blue; so dark in fact, that some might say his skin color was black, however most agree he was blue; just a good bit darker than Rama.   

As the two Sanskrit Epics (Mahabharata & Ramayana) go these two fellows were major players in India, in fact they are considered          models in an individual’s “dharma”.    In case you’re wondering, there is no single word translation for the term dharma in western languages; however in Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with the order that makes life and the universe possible; it includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, and virtues. Generally speaking, ‘‘the right way of living’’ or you could say the poem furnishes the ideals and wisdom for everyone’s life.

The Mahabharata is the longest known epic poem and has been described as “the longest poem ever written”.  It originally consisted of over 200,000 individual verse lines containing about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabharata is roughly ten times the length of The Iliad and The Odyssey combined, and about four times the length of the Ramayana which contains 48,000 lines. 

Krishna (8th Avatar of Vishnu) is a religious deity, worshipped across many traditions of Hinduism in a variety of different perceptions; he is viewed as: a god-child, a prankster, a model lover, a divine hero, and in some sects, as the Supreme Being.

Like Krishna, Rama (7th Avatar of Vishnu) is among the many popular figures and deities in Hinduism, specifically Vaishnavism and Vaishnava religious teachings throughout South and Southeast Asia. Along with Krishna, Rama is considered to be one of the most important Avatars of Vishnu but in a few “Rama-centric” sects, he, like Krishna, is considered the Supreme Being too, in the stead of an Avatar.
Rama and Krishna were born as human beings of Earth, not some planet far, far away as has been reported on The History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” program. Both were referred to as blue gods because they had a blue aura; a field of energy that is around every substance, not because they had blue skin. In other words the blue color is merely a symbol, neither man was born blue.        

It is generally believed that Lord Rama was born in 5114 BC.  During his rule (some say for a staggering 11,000 years) there was no war, famine or disease. Many Hindu denominations say that Lord Rama died 200 Years before the time of Lord Krishna’s rein, based upon this supposition; he must have died around 3427 BC; totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,687 years; a long life indeed but a good bit “shy” of 11,000 years.         

Assuming Lord Rama’s 11,000 year “term in office” is correct, common sense suggests that he is more likely to have appeared several million years ago as is often argued by various academics. Long before written history; after all, for an untold number of years the Sanskrit Epics were all oral history, passed from generation to generation.    Alternatively, perhaps the historians are a couple naughts (0’s) off. 

Rama’s rule was apparently rather like the Greek Mythology’s “Golden Age” when peace and harmony prevailed; during both “period’s” humans did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. Everyone lived to a ripe old age yet maintained a youthful appearance and when they eventually dropped dead, it was always peacefully.

Lord Krishna on the other hand was born in 3427 BC and lived to be only 125 years old; but then Lord Krishna participated in war and meet his end by an ordinary deer hunter’s arrow to the foot.   

As to how Lord Rama died, the question still remains unanswered but during most of his long life there was no war, famine or disease!