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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 64 (1980)

Issue: 8. (August)

First Page: 1285

Last Page: 1286

Title: Devonian Oil Shale of Eastern United States: ABSTRACT

Author(s): John C. Janka, John M. Dennison, R. David Matthews

Article Type: Meeting abstract


The Devonian oil shales of the eastern United States constitute one of the nation's major energy resources. The eastern Devonian oil shale resource is estimated to exceed 400 billion bbl of synthetic oil, if all surface and near-surface shales of ore quality were strip or deep mined for above-ground hydroretorting.

Work done at the Institute of Gas Technology since 1972 under the sponsorship of the American Gas Association, The Gas Research Institute, and the U.S. Department of Energy has shown that if retorted in hydrogen gas at temperatures of 500 to 730°C and pressures

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of 20 to 50 atm, the eastern Devonian shales are a viable source of synthetic liquid or gaseous fuels. Experimental work, in equipment capable of processing up to 1 ton/hour of shale, has confirmed the technical and economic feasibility of above-ground hydroretorting of oil shales. Work done to date on nearly 500 samples from 12 states indicates that the HYTORT process can give organic carbon recoveries from 2 to 2.5 times those of conventional retorting of the Devonian shales, so that the HYTORT process yields 25 to 30 gal/ton on syncrude at many localities, compared with 10 to 15 gal/ton using Fischer Assay retort methods.

Criteria for inclusion of shale in estimates of recoverable resources for the HYTORT process are (1) organic carbon of at least 10% by weight, (2) overburden of less than 200 ft (59 m), (3) volumetric stripping ratios of less than 2.5 to 1, and (4) stratigraphic thickness of 10 ft (3 m) or more.

Resource estimates include: Kentucky (Ohio, New Albany, and Sunbury Shale), 190 billion bbl; Ohio (Ohio and Sunbury Shale), 140 billion bbl; Tennessee (Chattanooga Shale), 44 billion bbl; Indiana (New Albany Shale), 40 billion bbl; Michigan (Antrim Shale), 5 billion bbl; and Alabama (Chattanooga Shale), 4 billion bbl. Recoverable resources have not been identified in West Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Arkansas, or Missouri outcrops. Co-production of uranium and metals is a possibility in the areas favorable for syncrude production.

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