A workshop on shale oil, sponsored by M.I.T., was held on June 4-5,
1979. The purpose of the workshop was to identify technological
opportunities for significant reduction in the cost of producing shale
oil on a large scale (at least 2 million barrels per day). Large-scale
production of shale oil is of current interest as one of the alternatives
for reducing imports of petroleum. The workshop participants included 11
industry and 9 M.I.T. people expert in technologies or approaches
potentially applicable to shale oil.
The participants reached general consensus on three major
- Large-scale production of shale oil would make possible a
reduction of cost through new technological applications and
innovations. There are opportunities for new technology in
individual mining, retorting, and upgrading steps. Perhaps more
important, there are also opportunities for combinations of
technology which would make best use of various processing
methods, the natural resources in place, economies of scale, the
mix of products, etc.
- A shale oil industry must exist and must be producing shale oil on
a meaningful scale in order to develop these improved technologies
most effectively. This is particularly true for those
technologies whose impact is on the whole system (such as
combinations of technology) rather than on individual process
steps. If industry growth is not accelerated...