No. of Recommendations: 2
Pituophis,
the 20x35 ft is not a shaft; it is an area within which a number of holes have been drilled. Into some of those holes heaters have been lowered and the other holes are production wells. I dont know the number or ratio of heating vs production holes. Because the Shell exercise was an experiment, I'd also bet they drilled monitoring wells as well.

I think your use of "obliterated" is hyperbolic. You could also argue that the feds "obliterated" a lot of land in paving the roads into and within Bryce, Zion, Capital Reef..... The ratio of land altered in order to gain access would decrease in proportion to the developed land if the operation were to go commercial. It was an experiment so your concern on that front is also a bit exagerated.

I'm also sure that Shell didnt pay anyone to sit around and 'twiddle his thumbs'. I'd be surprised if a human was on-site more than once/wk and I'd bet the time on-site for each visit was on the order of minutes to few hours.

there's a nice blurb on shale oil at:
http://www.worldoil.com/Magazine/MAGAZINE_DETAIL.asp?ART_ID=2659

which includes:
The ICP process is energy intensive, as it requires injection of heat into the subsurface. However, for each unit of energy used to generate power to provide heat for the process, about 3.5 units of energy are produced and treated for sales. Electricity is a problem in several ways. One is getting it cheaply. Another is putting it in the ground. The electrodes must be able to take the punishment of high-amperage current for years, or else a costly maintenance program ensues. And cooking hydrocarbons, regardless of where, can cause a lot of carbon buildup. In situ buildup would likely be near or on the wellbore, possibly impeding heat flow.

It's clear that the engineering involved in producing shale oil is substantial and complicated - thus the reason why it's not currently utilized. However, the resource is substantial. At 1 billion barrels/sq mile the US is sitting on the equivalent of several 'elephant' oil fields. And before you get exercised about the electrical energy required it's quite likely that this would provide an opportunity for symbiotic uses of different energy sources, e.g. wind or solar to provide energy for the heaters.

Charlie
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