History Of Oil Shale Mining | iMINCO

History Of Oil Shale Mining

Oil shale mining has beenhappening since prehistoric times

History of oil shale miningWhy? Because it’s a “rock” that burns without any processing.Oil shalewas also used as a decoration, as it can be easily cut and polished.

The Romans and Greeks used it to decorate mosaics and floors in palaces, churches and mosques, and as road construction material.

As long ago as the 10th Century, an Arabian physician described a method of extracting oil from “some kind of bituminous shale”.

From the 14th to 17th centuries, shale oil was also used in Europe for medical treatments and street lighting.

The British Crown granted a patent in 1694 to three persons who had “found a way to extract and make great quantities of pitch, tarr, and oyle out of a sort of stone.” In 1781, Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald, registered a patent for an extraction process to produce tar, pitch and oil from coal and bituminous shales, using masonry retorts and wooden condensers.

The extraction method of heating the crushed oil shale (retorts) and distilling it via a condenser was refined over a long period.

The modern use of oil shale for oil extraction as an industry began in France, where commercial mining began in 1837.

During the second half of the 19th century shale oil extraction industries were initiated also in Sweden, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

In Australia, the first mine started in New South Wales at American Creek and the first shale oil was produced there by the Pioneer Kerosene Works.

The industry expanded worldwide in the early part of the 20th Century due to limited access to conventional sources of petroleum and the mass production of cars and trucks with the corresponding increase in gasoline consumption. In the 50s and 60s, apart from Russia and China, most countries abandoned oil shale projects because of high processing costs and cheaper petroleum from other more conventional sources.

Due to the 1973 oil crisis, the huge American industry restarted and nearly all the major oil companies had oil shale pilot projects happening, only tocollapse againin the early 1980s when oil prices fell.

Oil shale production began to grow again globally in the mid-1990s, with China and the United States producing millions of barrels annually.

In Australia, a demonstration plant was built near Gladstone in Queensland in 2000, but was closed due to environmental concerns, and was rebuilt andbegan using a new process in 2011 and has received no complaints to date. The Queenslandmoratorium on oil shale mining has now been lifted and this plant and many other new projects, will no doubt expand operations, ensuring future jobs for Queenslanders in this state which hold 90% of Australia`s oil shale reserves.iminco logo

History of oil shale mining

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