Shale research still on
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
THE Stuart Shale Oil Plant stands still and quiet, but beneath the surface work continues to roll along.
The plant stopped operating in July last year, but a small team continues research and development, with the ultimate goal of a commercially viable plant still in sight.
Owners Queensland Energy Resources Limited (QERL) are currently preparing samples of shale oil to be sent to America for testing.
The company has begun gathering samples from a box cut mine near the plant to test the various methods for producing shale oil.
After being crushed at the Yarwun plant the samples will be sent to Colorado for refining in an existent pilot plant using a different method to that used at the Yarwun plant in order to determine what process works best.
However any commercially viable plant still seems some way off, with the current testing a precursor to a great deal of planning still to come.
The samples will be sent to Colorado in the coming weeks, with results from the testing to be known by March next year and analysis to continue into the second quarter of next year.
However after the results of the tests, QERL will still need to embark on a Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) stage.
It will also have to resubmit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before any commercial plant goes ahead.
In March this year QERL asked the government to withdraw the EIS that had been submitted by previous owners Southern Pacific Petroleum (SPP) as it did not fit in with their plans for a commercial plant.