Northside Group: Oil Shale ICP - Colorado Field Pilots

Speaker Thomas Fowler
Project Leader Shell International, Houston, TX Tom Fowler is a Project Leader in Shell’s Unconventional Oil group. He joined Shell in June 1981 and worked a number of offshore and onshore Facilities Engineering assignments out of New Orleans, Traverse City (Michigan), and Houston (since 1990).  Beginning in 1998, Tom has worked ...

Project Leader
Shell International, Houston, TX

Tom Fowler is a Project Leader in Shell’s Unconventional Oil group. He joined Shell in June 1981 and worked a number of offshore and onshore Facilities Engineering assignments out of New Orleans, Traverse City (Michigan), and Houston (since 1990). 


Beginning in 1998, Tom has worked with Shell’s Researchers on the field-testing of Shell’s emerging In-situ Conversion process (ICP) for Oil Shale and In-situ Upgrading process (IUP) for Heavy Oil in an effort to unlock these massive resources. He was involved in all six of the recent Colorado Oil Shale pilots and was project manager for the large Heavy Oil pilot in Peace River (Alberta, Canada). Tom shares a number of patents in both the ICP and IUP technologies. He is currently project leader of a small team evaluating the long-term commercial potential for Oil Shale in a “Hard Truths” world.


Tom graduated from Michigan Technological University in 1981 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Full Description

The massive size of the oil shale resource in the Western USA, particularly in the Green River Basin, has attracted numerous commercialization attempts from industry over the last 100 years. Although great sums of money have been invested and many professional careers have been devoted to the challenge, efforts thus far have not resulted in a commercial oil shale industry. 

For more than 40 years, Shell has been active in the Green River oil shale seeking a process that could develop the 800 billion bbls of oil resource (RAND Corporation). Since 1980 Shell has focused on the In-situ Conversion Process (ICP) in which oil shale is heated by thermal conduction from a closely spaced array of electric resistance heaters. At approximately 650oF, the kerogen present in the oil shale is converted to oil, gas and water that can be produced by conventional means. Although the process is subject to mining statutes and regulations in the State of Colorado, no traditional mining is required.

This presentation provides a brief history of attempts to commercialize oil shale in the United States and an overview of Shell’s ICP technology, including its 1940s Swedish oil shale roots. It focuses on Shell’s seven field pilots conducted in Colorado that address ICP recovery, heater testing, and freeze wall construction and performance. 

Shell’s work in the Colorado Oil Shale over the last 40 years was the subject of a recent SPE paper written by Thomas D. Fowler and co-authored by Harold J. Vinegar entitled “Oil Shale ICP – Colorado Field Pilots” (SPE 121164) and presented at the 2009 Western Regional Meeting.
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Parking: Use Contract Entrance. Push button on kiosk and tell security that you are with the SPE Northside Study Group in the Greenspoint Club.
Organizer Bernard Franklin

When?

Tue, Nov. 10, 2009
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. US/Central

How Much?

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Where?

Greenspoint Club
16925 Northchase Dr.
Houston, TX 77060

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