Raytheon Sells Oil Shale Extraction Technology to Schlumberger  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Defence contractor Raytheon has sold their microwave based shale oil extraction technology to Schlumberger for an undisclosed price. Thus far, this technology has mostly been something for people to laugh at and make cynical comments about EROEI and practical application on a large scale.

Schlumberger don't have a reputation for being fools though, so what might appear to be a mad scientist's experiment being performed in the bowels of the military industrial complex could be more possible than it has seemed thus far. From a peak oil perspective, this would be good. From a global warming perspective, it would be awful.

The sale culminates years of work by Raytheon and partners devoted to the longstanding challenge of reliably extracting heavy oil from shale, tar sands and spent wells in a manner that is cost effective and environmentally sensitive, while also presenting new opportunities to support Schlumberger in its application of the technology in the field.

The arrangement between the two companies comes as demand for the world’s finite oil supplies continues to increase, the price per barrel is near record highs, and government and industry are looking for new sources of oil to lessen dependency on foreign suppliers.

If successfully harvested, shale could provide a long-term source of reliable, affordable and secure oil. Federal officials estimate that this resource — much of which is locked in a 16,000-acre formation beneath federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming — could yield enough oil to meet U.S. demand at current levels for more than 250 years.

In order to create new momentum for extracting oil from shale, Raytheon utilized one of its many intellectual property reserves (radio frequency, or RF, technology), developed a small business partnership for an aspect of the solution that research determined is critical to success, and then pursued and solidified interest from companies such as Schlumberger, a global innovator in the energy industry. ...

Raytheon’s solution combines RF with critical fluids (CF) processes of small business partner CF Technologies in Hyde Park, Mass. The RF/CF combination uniformly heats buried shale rock, separates the petroleum from the shale, and directs the liberated oil so that it may flow into tanks for extraction. The method is more economical and environmentally responsible than older oil shale extraction techniques as it uses far less power, does not severely disrupt the landscape or leave behind residue that can enter groundwater supplies.

6 comments

TheMANwithNoName   says 2:07 AM

I'll believe it when I see it working in actual production. I worked on this 20 years ago as a research assistant and there are MANY potential hurdles to overcome, not least of which is the very limited penetration distance of RF in rock. In the spirit of full disclosure I must add that we did not look at the critical fluids aspects mentioned in the article.

Agreed - this still seems like a long shot.

2450MHz   says 8:53 AM

Currently this technology has no economic feasibility whatsoever. However, in the context of peak oil it might very well be econmical sometime in the future. I don't believe any technical hurdles are show-stoppers.

I am seriously considering the microwave frequency for use in the extraction of shale in the Middle East of which i have a concession... is this an economically viable method and is it THERE yet? the technology, I mean.

Drifter37   says 7:56 AM

GBRC will get there first, viably.

Great because I am working with them ...thanks.

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