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January 31, 2012

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I thought the problem with oil-bearing shale is that the amount of energy required to extract the oil is almost as much as the energy produced. Sometimes even more.

No, you're thinking of oil shale, which is different from shale oil. Oil shales are essentially kerogen-containing rocks. You mine the rocks, and then heat them to extract the oil. That's not economical.

Shale oil (or tight oil) is oil contained in the interstices of rocks, not inside the rock itself. You fracture the rock (as described in the post) and the oil flows out.

Does that clear it up?

"You mine the rocks, and then heat them to extract the oil. That's not economical."

Shouldn't that be appended with a "at the current price of oil"?

Energy input costs rise with energy prices.

Okay, I see the difference. Though it sounds as if the extraction of shale oil/tight oil is fairly energy-intensive itself.

Not as much as you might think. The ratio is low enough as to be almost inconsequential, at least compared as to other cost.

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