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For many, the idea of an energy crisis has passed, but it behooves those who accept the vagaries of government and international dissent to prepare for the future, when spot shortages of energy are likely to occur again. Since petroleum has selected uses and properties for which few or no substitutes are available, we need to reevaluate continually the potential of unconventional recovery of petroleum from heavy crude oils and tar sands.
Several methods are worthy of consideration. Among these are (1) recovery using selected fluids (EOR), to find the best mobilization fluids, e.g., CO2; (2) recovery by conventional mining methods, e.g., room and pillar, long-wall mining, modified block caving, pressurized block caving coupled with hydrofracing, etc.; (3) remote mining, using robots; (4) possible mobilization using gases other than CO2 and steam; (5) consideration of solidification techniques coupled with conventional mining; (6) geothermal energy; (7) biological methods; and (8) electrical methods.
While these approaches are, at present, completely uneconomic and impractical, we cannot predict when the next technological breakthrough will occur that could make these concepts possible. I urge a searching look down the long corridors of the future. The only hold-back is our own timidity to consider "far-out" ideas.
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