At the Unconventional Fuels Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, senior legal adviser to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Steve Black, said the Rocky Mountains’ oil shale reserves are “not ready for prime time,” squashing some companies’ plans to tap those resources.
For years, companies have spent millions of dollars trying to develop cost-effective ways to produce fuel from oil shale and oil sands, Utah’s Deseret News said. But because of factors like political policy, no cost-effective method has been found so far.
But Black said the Obama administration is taking a “deliberate, cautious approach” to making federal lands available for oil shale development, because no one has found an economically viable method, the AP said.
“I don’t know when we’ll see commercial development on public lands,” Black told the Unconventional Fuels Conference, a gathering of leading researchers and small outfits with experimental oil shale works. “It’s an industry that is not ready for prime time.”
Todd Dana, founder of one of Salt Lake’s active oil-shale players, said the feet dragging on the part of the Fed to make oil shale deposits available is standing in the way of progress, the AP said.
Extracting kerogen, a half-baked form of petroleum, locked inside shale has proven a tough nut to crack. But industry players say the Obama administration isn’t providing regulatory guidance or enough land to interest major oil companies or investors. They asserted the Obama administration has little or no interest in — or has outright hostility toward — developing oil shale reserves.
Black said the Obama administration is not opposed to oil shale, and is not trying to pick winners or losers.
The Deseret News reported that Black said the administration supports “all responsible development of potential energy resources.”
“As an element of our (national) energy security picture, doing the research and developing this technology is important.
“We are committed to an energy policy that is sustainable over the long term,” he added.