Shale gas production: in-situ retorting

In-situ oil shale retorting. Energy efficiency evaluation.

    Experts from the company INFOCOM ASIA collaboratively with Shvartsman L.Z., a corresponding member of the Academy of Engineering Sciences and Bazhenov Y.V., candidate of engineering sciences, developed and patented a new efficient method of shale gas production with the use of method of in-situ oil shale retorting by resistive arc heating of the oil shale beds by thermozoned sections (TZ-RA method).

    A new method of resistive arc heating of the oil shale formation has a wide range of benefits in comparison with other widely applied methods of shale gas production, such as fracking and ex-situ retorting.

    It will be recalled that fracking is a method of hydraulic fracturing with the application of chemical agents on the large territories and intensive shattering of formations with environmentally unfriendly impact as a result. Besides, this method of shale gas production is very expensive. For information, from experience of USA, infrastructure development of one well costs $ 2,6 - 4 million dollars. In addition, 3-4 hydraulic fracturing operations are performed on each well every year (each operation costs $250 thousand dollars).

    Although another method of above-ground oil shale processing using the in-situ retorting method allows comparing economic efficiency of oil shale and coal of high quality, from the viewpoint of experts of INFOCOM ASIA this method has disadvantages, caused by environmental problem of waste rock utilization and economic constraints with increasing depth of workable formations and expenses for delivery of raw materials to the place of processing.

    So the search of more efficient, environmentally friendly and cheap technology is preferred. More and more arguments show the efficiency of the in situ retorting method. Technology of in-situ oil shale retorting by resistive arc heating of the oil shale formations by thermozoned sections doesn’t have disadvantages of other methods: starting capital investments and time for production of marketable product are reduced; process of oil shale extraction is simplified. The characteristic property of this method is the possibility of creation of the restricted thermozoned area inside the formation, which parameters can be optimized by calculation according to the thickness and depth of the working formation, thermophysical properties of oil shale and surrounding rock massif. Possibility of control of moving speed of working zone allows controlling temperature gradient inside the working zone, and therefore the reaction spreading velocity.

    The additional advantage of this method is possibility of its adaptation towards thin shale formations, deep-lying formations and quick production of marketable products with high index of energy efficiency of oil shale production

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