oil found in the Dakotas

mrhnau

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I recently heard about some new oil reserves found in the Dakotas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakken_Formation

Read here on Slashdot for a bit more.

Apparently there are billions of barrels, greatly increasing our oil producing potential. Very interesting! I'm still way in favor of pushing alternative energies, but we will need oil in the mean time until we get there. I'd love to get off of the middle east nipple and get some energy independence. This would also add a huge amount of jobs in the region as well as hopefully reduce the cost of oil/gas!

On a side note, I'm wondering what the liberals will find negative about this? Perhaps some endangers pond scum that needs to be saved? Or this is just a win for "big oil"?

On another side note, wasn't there a story a while ago about some Native Americans declaring independence? Lakota tribe I think? It is unrecognized, but I wonder how that might play out? Probably nothing, but an interesting thought, especially if their declared territory happens on lie over some of the reserves.
 

tellner

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This isn't exactly news. We've known about it for decades.

The problem is that we don't know what we have. Estimates vary wildly, by orders of magnitude. How much of it can be recovered? The best guesses are "between one and fifty percent" which translates to "We haven't got a ****ing clue."

Shales are not easy to extract oil from. You don't just dig a hole and watch it bloop out. It has to be extracted. Forget monetary costs for a moment. A lot of these require more than a barrel's worth of energy to extract a barrel of oil. In other words, it's like losing money on every sale and saying you'll make it back on volume :shrug:

Those of you who don't get that one, please go back and take remedial business economics.

When the error bars are in the exponent on how much there is and how much of it you can get it's certainly a cause for interest and research. But it isn't something a betting man would put money on. And the enthusiasts are asking us to bet the farm on it. Let's put a few million dollars into surveys of the deposits and into characterizing samples so we have some idea of what real resources we are talking about before we figure out how much the oil companies can sell to the Chinese before they all move to the Gulf or the Caymans.

Even the best estimates are that this is only temporary. If we have been given a breather it would be best to use the time wisely, develop alternatives, and prepare for the day when we don't have cheap oil. Because it will come as surely as day follows night.
 

Nolerama

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The writing is on the wall. Americans will have to change their mentality when it comes to using automobiles as gas becomes more scarce and prices rise.

Sadly, the impetus will not be out of environmental or socially conscientious reasons, but a thinning wallet.

People will end up riding bicycles as their form of daily transportation, relocate closer to their places of work, and wonder why they're gaining weight because the transportation costs of food will get so high, that we will be forced to decide what is better: $8 for a dozen eggs, or $5 for a fast-food value meal.

We will then begin to live within our means, and overextend our finances and resources, because we will then know what it's like to not have the luxuries we take for granted in this country...

Unless the Republic of the Lakota shoot photon torpedoes down the country's Death Star, then I see their attempt at independence as futile as my own wishes to form my own country and rename it Cybertron.


Just my opinion.
 

Makalakumu

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I thought the issue of secession was settled already. Anyway, enough of this oil crap! Let's progress!

The issue is far from settled and far from easy to solve. Our oil dependence was carefully contrived in early part of the 20th century by the collusion of business and government interests. Together, they destroyed most forms of public transit and vastly subsidized a network of infrastructure whose sole purpose is to FORCE people to use as much oil as possible. Efficiency was the not the aim of these government programs, short term profits motivated the bulk of it.

Further, because of the "green revolution" use of oil has transformed our agricultural system into an industrial oil sink whose very survival depends on massive quantities of fossil fuels. At every stage of production, oil is needed energy input. Planting, farming, fertilizing, harvesting, shipping, processesing, shipping, processesing, shipping again, stocking, driving to the grocery store, etc, it all spells out a budget where it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of food.

The media tends to only focus on a very small part of the former problem, but the latter, IMHO, is far worse. Any major disruption in our supplies or major price hikes has the potential to cause massive food shortages in this country. The ugly truth of our dependence is that people would literally starve in this country without oil.

If american's knew exactly how vulnerable this country was, they wouldn't be worrying about "terrorists" in far away lands (who just so happen to have lots of oil under them). They'd be thinking about how to feed their children in the post carbon age. The same people who started this still control the show, however. And the men behind the curtain are more powerful then ever. One has to wonder how far they'll take the oil age and if they'll give a damn regarding the fallout from this greed.

So, anyway, this problem is far from settled. We haven't even begun to settle it. In the last 10 years, all we've done is exacerbate it.
 

Twin Fist

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yeah yeah, oil BAD, we get it.

Here's the problem:

What other choices do we have?

oh, thats right, NONE. There is no other option that we can slap into place. I wish there was, I want my Mr Fusion. But as long as there isnt another option, we have to have oil, and we need to drill it where ever we find it. If we let them, OPEC will destroy our economy.

yeah, people could slap solar panels on thier houses, but the panels cost too much. and full conversion is very costly. Now, if houses were being built that way in the first place it would help.

Mind you, if i was King, I would fund new energy sources, without raising taxes, I would just take all foreign aid we give out and put that money to research. I would set prices on solar panels, to make them affordable, and start building nuclear power plants to replace fuel oil and coal fired ones.

But untill they invent the Mr Fusion, or I get elected king, we have to have something, and that something is oil.
 

MA-Caver

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Here's the thing. We wean our selves off the Middle East nipple then we leave that oil reserve for our supposed enemies as it were. China would simply move in and take over consumption for example. China isn't an enemy true, but having fuel in quantity is what helps win wars. Nice to know we got reserves in Dakota. Just another spot to screw up the environment.
I wonder if this is really a NEW found spot or if the powers that be actually knew it was there all along and to allay the fears of recession and rising gas prices and so on they pull this out of their top hats and say "hey! Lookit what we found!" Everybody claps and cheers like a 2nd grade class at a birthday party!
Yaayyy!
Sorry to be cynical but I'm in agreement that we need to start looking at alternate fuel sources and actually start using them. The oil billionaires can monopolize those if they want... as long as we're actually using them. This way they don't feel so poor when their billions become millions and their millions become thousands, because money don't last forever.

Most likely powers that be will just cap the wells and sit on the reserves for the "just in case" scenarios, meanwhile we'll still be on the Saudi tit, because politically it's better for those in office.
 

Marginal

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On a side note, I'm wondering what the liberals will find negative about this? Perhaps some endangers pond scum that needs to be saved? Or this is just a win for "big oil"?
I thought it was Republican sportsmen that were mainly carrying the torch for the environment lately. Something about how disrupting animal habitats ruins their hunting.
 

tellner

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What will liberals find negative about this?

Here are my concerns:

  1. We will act on the basis of wishful thinking rather than good data.
  2. If this does pan out we will abandon our possibly last chance to have alternatives developed and in place for the time when this set of fields runs low
  3. We'll give away the resources for next to nothing to the oil companies. They'll profit by selling the oil on the world market. We won't get lower oil prices or fair revenues
  4. The costs will be swept under the rug and probably passed on to you and me.
 

Twin Fist

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as much as i normally hate the idea of the government getting involved in business, I am about ready for them to start setting the price for gas.

I mean, i can live just fine not eating bananas if the price goes too high. If gas gets too expensive, the price fo everything goes up, and that could cause a collapse of the entire economy.

This field, alaska, and the gulf could supply us for the 10-15 years it will take for mr fusion to come along.
 

elder999

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as much as i normally hate the idea of the government getting involved in business, I am about ready for them to start setting the price for gas.

I mean, i can live just fine not eating bananas if the price goes too high. If gas gets too expensive, the price fo everything goes up, and that could cause a collapse of the entire economy.

This field, alaska, and the gulf could supply us for the 10-15 years it will take for mr fusion to come along.

Who knows how and when oil shale will be economical-it will become economical as oil gets more expensive.

Alaska-and I assume you mean ANWAR-is really only good for about 1 years consumption in this country.

Mr. Fusion is quite a bit more than 10-15 years away...I'm betting on 25-30, and 50 or more wouldn't surprise me....
 

Makalakumu

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One thing that people need to wrap their minds around is that an oil feild isn't a big empty cave in the ground filled with crude. You don't empty it like you do your gas tank. Even the best oil feilds have a practical limit to how much oil can be extracted. The cappilary force of the oil bonding to the surrounding substrate is the primary factor in determining this.

With this in mind, lets take a look at the kind of deposits we have out in South Dakota. Primarily, they are oil sands and shales, but the thing to keep in mind is that none of these deposits have any cap rock from an overarching anticline. Thus, all of the light volitiles, the stuff that flows easily and is easily refined, is gone.

What is left is the sticky stuff. Qualitatively, this looks very much like tar. Now try and imagine something. Take a liter of tar and mix it in with about 100 liters of sand, or worse, shale, a rock with small clast size and is far more tightly lithified. How in the hell do you get the oil out of that mess? The answer is that you have to expend a lot of energy in order to do so. The most effective way we know of is to heat up a solvent and force it under pressure into the pulverized substrate. The solvent dissolves the oil and it collected and separated by fractional distillation. Technology can only solve so many problems with this, it will ALWAYS require a lot of energy in order to extract this oil.

So, is it worth it? As long as the price of oil keeps climbing. Environmentally, this kind of process lays waste to vast swaths of land. A cubic yard of material may only yeild a few ccs of oil. So, think about how much land you actually have to strip?

I guess, the bottom line for me is that the fact that we are even considering sources like these is because we are scraping the bottom of our oil barrel. Nothing about this source will save us from any problems because most is non-recoverable. However, if the oil companies can get the US government to subsidize this business with out tax dollars, they be be able to make a profit.

That's all this debate is really about.
 

MA-Caver

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One thing that people need to wrap their minds around is that an oil feild isn't a big empty cave in the ground filled with crude. You don't empty it like you do your gas tank. Even the best oil feilds have a practical limit to how much oil can be extracted. The cappilary force of the oil bonding to the surrounding substrate is the primary factor in determining this.

With this in mind, lets take a look at the kind of deposits we have out in South Dakota. Primarily, they are oil sands and shales, but the thing to keep in mind is that none of these deposits have any cap rock from an overarching anticline. Thus, all of the light volitiles, the stuff that flows easily and is easily refined, is gone.

What is left is the sticky stuff. Qualitatively, this looks very much like tar. Now try and imagine something. Take a liter of tar and mix it in with about 100 liters of sand, or worse, shale, a rock with small clast size and is far more tightly lithified. How in the hell do you get the oil out of that mess? The answer is that you have to expend a lot of energy in order to do so. The most effective way we know of is to heat up a solvent and force it under pressure into the pulverized substrate. The solvent dissolves the oil and it collected and separated by fractional distillation. Technology can only solve so many problems with this, it will ALWAYS require a lot of energy in order to extract this oil.

So, is it worth it? As long as the price of oil keeps climbing. Environmentally, this kind of process lays waste to vast swaths of land. A cubic yard of material may only yeild a few ccs of oil. So, think about how much land you actually have to strip?

I guess, the bottom line for me is that the fact that we are even considering sources like these is because we are scraping the bottom of our oil barrel. Nothing about this source will save us from any problems because most is non-recoverable. However, if the oil companies can get the US government to subsidize this business with out tax dollars, they be be able to make a profit.

That's all this debate is really about.

So we're essentially talking about a government red herring!
 

Touch Of Death

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I recently heard about some new oil reserves found in the Dakotas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakken_Formation

Read here on Slashdot for a bit more.

Apparently there are billions of barrels, greatly increasing our oil producing potential. Very interesting! I'm still way in favor of pushing alternative energies, but we will need oil in the mean time until we get there. I'd love to get off of the middle east nipple and get some energy independence. This would also add a huge amount of jobs in the region as well as hopefully reduce the cost of oil/gas!

On a side note, I'm wondering what the liberals will find negative about this? Perhaps some endangers pond scum that needs to be saved? Or this is just a win for "big oil"?

On another side note, wasn't there a story a while ago about some Native Americans declaring independence? Lakota tribe I think? It is unrecognized, but I wonder how that might play out? Probably nothing, but an interesting thought, especially if their declared territory happens on lie over some of the reserves.
Our oil is to expensive to refine.
Sean
 

zDom

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We might as well use up the oil available on the world market first so we have what is located within our borders to maintain the "technology platform" to develop alternative energy sources.

What sucks is how oil company execs in our own country are ganking us, making record profits while the economy goes to ****.

But then, that's corporate execs for ya. Always looking out for No. 1, reaping annual bonuses that exceed what most of us will earn in a lifetime while stockholders get screwed. (sigh) ;(
 

tellner

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at our current costs, it wont be long before it isnt too expensive to refine.
The problem isn't dollars. It's energy. There's a certain irreducible number of calories it takes to turn shale into a hundred calories of something you can stick in a gas tank. The shales and tar sands tend to be very close to that breakeven point. I hope the ratio of energy in:energy out is less than 1:1. If it is it becomes a question of what price crude must be at for it to make economic sense. I really hope the answer isn't "So high that it takes a week's pay to fill up your tank and buy a dozen eggs."

If it's greater than 1:1 it's useless, much like corn-based ethanol.
 
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