December 2, 2014
Currently, oil prices are falling sharply. It is the result not only of the slowdown in the world economy, but also of increased production in non-OPEC countries and very particularly due to the extraction of oil from shale or “oil shales” in the US.
Advancing technology in operation allows the extraction of “unconventional” oil and gas from a rock known as shale.
Unconventional hydrocarbons (oil and gas) are those that are in conditions that do not allow fluid movement, either because they are trapped in poorly permeable rocks or because they are very high viscosity crude oils.
They require the use of special technologies for their extraction, not only due to the properties of the hydrocarbon itself, but also due to the characteristics of the rock that contains it.
At present, they represent an interesting source of resources, since many of them are in deposits that were considered exhausted and, in addition, it is estimated that they are in large volumes.
In a report published by the statistical arm of the Department of Energy of the United States Government (EIA, for its acronym in English), which updates the 2011 one and includes the world’s natural gas and oil resources in shales, it substantially increases the volume of reserves of these energies on a global scale.
The document reports that «the calculated volume of hydrocarbons in these formations has increased substantially. The technical reserves of oil in shales reach 345 billion barrels, while the ‘conventional’ of the industrialized countries are only 238.3 billion barrels and the world total ‘conventional’ is 1,668.9 billion barrels » .
This extraction method has been strongly criticized for its potential negative environmental consequences related to groundwater contamination of the water table.
In this video they explain the operation of the «fracking» technique (hydraulic fracturing of rocks in the subsoil) capable of releasing the hydrocarbons contained in the shales:
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