Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Congo Oil Sands: Does this Count as Alternative Energy?
While America putzes around refusing to concoct some intelligent energy policy for developing her own natural resources while preparing for future needs, the rest of the world continues to find ways to use those big oil bucks that are being sucked out of our pockets. Which is nice for them.
In a way, it’s nice for us, too: exploration and exploitation of new finds becomes more economically feasible while oil prices are up around “choking my vacation plans” levels like they are right now. In the Congo, a find of oil sands might have been mostly ignored a decade or two ago; right now, though, it means new jobs, a new energy source, and new opportunities for a country that could use the help.
Eni, the Italian oil group, has discovered a large oil sands deposit in the Republic of Congo that is expected to become Africa’s first large unconventional oil development and could hold several billion barrels.
Paolo Scaroni, Eni’s chief executive, said the project, due to begin production in 2011, opened “a new front” in the development of “unconventional” oil.
Unconventional resources, such as oil sands, which have in the past been considered too difficult or expensive to extract, are expected to provide an increasing proportion of the world’s fuel supply in future as conventional reserves run down.
Canada’s oil sands and Venezuela’s Orinoco belt have the world’s biggest known heavy oil reserves. The area to be developed by Eni is on a smaller scale, but is still likely to be very substantial.
Eni has not put a figure on the scale of the resources in its 1,790 square km licence area, but a sample 100 square km area that Eni has studied is estimated to hold 500m to 2.5bn barrels of recoverable oil.