This spring, Genie Energy signed an agreement with the government of Mongolia, under which its subsidiary will explore oil shale over a five year period. Statements to the press have spun the agreement as a way for the country to achieve energy independence from Russia, as Mongolia currently imports 90 percent of its petroleum needs from its neighbor. Estimates have put Mongolia’s oil shale reserves at 800 billion tons or more.
However, critics of oil shale contend that the costs of extracting the oil from the shale will not produce a satisfactory energy return on investment (EROI). While shale oil and shale gas currently dominate global energy news as the “shale oil revolution,” oil shale is its poorer relative. It’s more costly to extract, and in that respect has been likened to tar sands in Canada.
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