1Neil Reynolds, With its oil treasure, Israel gets a shield from tyranny. The
Globe and Mail, Juen 28, 2011.
"The London-based World Energy Council says Israel’s Shfela Basin, a half-
hour drive south of Jerusalem, holds 250 billion barrels of recoverable
shale oil, possibly making the energy-vulnerable country (as expressed by
The Wall Street Journal) 'the world’s newest energy giant.' With reserves
of 260 billion barrels, Saudi Arabia would remain the world’s No. 1 oil
country – though not, perhaps, for long. Howard Jonas, CEO of U.S.-based
IDT Corp., the company that owns the Shfela Basin concession, says there is
much more oil under Israel than under Saudi Arabia: Perhaps, he says, twice
"Even with a mere 250 billion barrels, the Shfela Basin (or 238 square
kilometres of it) would make Israel the third-largest holder of shale
reserves in the world – right behind the U.S. with 1.5 trillion barrels and
China with 355 billion barrels.
"U.S. energy analyst Irfan Chaudhry says $26 worth of coal now produces as
much electricity as $100 worth of oil – as does $24 worth of natural gas.
(i) Oil Shale Country Notes: China. In Survey of Energy Resources 2007,
World Energy Council.
("The commercial extraction of oil shale and the operation of heating
retorts for processing the oil shale were developed in Fushun between 1920
and 1930" when Manchuria was Japan's)
* barrel (unit)
(The standard oil barrel of 42 US gallons is used in the United States as a
measure of crude oil and other petroleum products. Elsewhere, oil is
commonly measured in cubic metres (m3) or in tonnes (t), with tonnes more
often being used by European oil companies. * * * There can be 6 to 8
barrels of oil in a ton, depending on density.)
(ii) Oil Shale Country Notes update. Survey of Energy Resources Interim
Update 2009, World Energy Council.
(b) The report states, "But North America is a single market for oil and gas
This is due to North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
(c) To make it easy to read, I will explain in the next posting the old-
style shale oil extraction, from mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries
, with a focus on Fushun, Liaoning which was under Japanese colonial rule.
2shale oil extraction
"Modern industrial extraction of shale oil originated in France with the
implementation of a process invented by Alexander Selligue in 1838, improved
upon a decade later in Scotland using a process invented by James Young.
"The 1894 invention of the Pumpherston retort, which was much less reliant
on coal heat than its predecessors, marked the separation of the oil shale
industry from the coal industry.
"China (Manchuria), Estonia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and
Switzerland began extracting shale oil in the early 20th century. However,
crude oil discoveries in Texas during the 1920s and in the Middle East in
the mid 20th century brought most oil shale industries to a halt.
(1) BA Harvie, Historical Review Paper: The Shale-Oil Industry in Scotland
1858-1962. II: Oil-Shale Quality, Resources and Technological Advances. Oil
Shale (Estonian Academy Publishers), 28: 78-84 (2011).
"Scotland had a history of full-scale shale oil production from 1850-1962
and was a key developer of many of the technologies still used in modern-day
, above ground retorting processes.
"Oil shale production was from deep mined seams and was primarily processed
to produce crude oils in the form of paraffin (which was a brand name). In
1850 full-scale commercial processes to retort and refine oil products from
oil shale were developed by James ‘Paraffin’ Young.
"The 1850s oil was extracted from the shale using a horizontal gas retort
that typically held and retorted about 50 kg per day. However, within two
years a vertical retort was introduced that gave increased yield and better-
quality oil. The two types of retort worked in tandem for many years
"The Scottish retort was perfected by 1895 when the Pumpherston retort was
developed by James Bryson, an engineer / manager at Pumpherston Oil Company.
This retort consisted of an externally heated continuous vertical retort of
cast iron and firebrick construction; it was the only type of retort in
use by 1938. No other retort was as efficient at giving maximum yield of oil
and ammonia from Scottish shale
(There is no need to read the rest of the reprot.)
(b) Retorts used in the nineteenth century for shale oil extraction:
(i) by A C Kirk (a Scot) that was- "used in the mid-to-late 19th century."
See the graphic in
(ii) Pumpherston retort
(named after Pumpherston town in Scotland, which was one of the major
Scottish oil shale areas; Year of invention 1894; section 2 Design: "steam
was added to produce ammonia")
* Ammonia is a desired (sought after, indeed) product of shale oil
(section 3 Synthesis and production)
I do not know the chemical reaction that generates ammonia (whose chemical
composition is NH3) from shale oil extraction, but organic material contains
the ingridients: nitrogen and hydrogen (as in hydrocarbons).
(iii) Fushun process
(named after the main production site of Fushun, Liaoning; The Fushun
process was developed and utilized for the extraction of shale oil in China
during the mid-1920s)
Apparently by Japanese. I can not find an illustration, but is under the
impression that it was similar to Pumpherston retort.
(a) Colonel Edwin L. Drake of Seneca Oil Company in 1959 at Titusville,
Pennsylvania drilled world's first oil well.
Pennsylvanian oil rush
* Titusville, Pennsylvania "was first settled in 1796 by Jonathan Titus."
* Titus (Latin: Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus) was Roman Emperor
(39-81; reign 79 to 81). Both from Wikipedia.
(On January 10, 1901, a well at Spindletop struck oil ("came in"). The new
oil field soon produced more than 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil per day
. Gulf Oil and Texaco, now part of Chevron Corporation, were formed to
develop production at Spindletop. No previously-discovered oil field in the
world had ever been so productive. The United States soon became the leading
oil producer in the world.)