- Union Cabinet of India recently allowed simultaneous exploitation of unconventional hydrocarbon resources like coal-bed methane, shale and unconventional oil and natural gas in order to boost domestic output and spur investment.
- The capacity of the crude oil reserves is depleting as the resources are limited.This has led nations to find out new sources of energy. Shale Oil, which is being focussed by many countries like United States and India, is one such option. But its production is challenging and expensive.
- Unconventional oil is petroleum produced or extracted using techniques other than the conventional (oil well) method.
- Shale oil is an unconventional oil produced from oil shale rock fragments by pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution.
- Shale oil is formed by accumulation of mud, silt and organic wastes and, heat & pressure being applied on these biological wastes for millions of years. Shale is a fine sedimentary rock that contains high amount of organic matter.
- India, third largest consumer of energy after China and USA, relies heavily on imports .USA is already extracting Shale Gas meeting about 20% of its domestic energy needs. India is at a very initial stage of estimating its available Shale Gas reserves.
- Its extraction is a big challenge and India needs to acquire complex technologies. There are two oil extraction methods:
Mined shale oils are transported to the processing plants, heated to 500OC, and oil comes out from these rocks.
Another is the In-Situ technique where Oil shale is broken by explosion and Kerogen comes out like crude oil from these rocks.