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Posted on on April 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Der Standard of Austria of April 4, 2012, continues a stream of information about Shale-Gas development North of Vienna – in the Wein-gardens of Poysdorf.

WEINVIERTEL –  Kein Ende im Schiefergas-Krieg.

by ROSA WINKLER-HERMADEN, 04. April 2012

Geheime Bohrungen, gefährliches Fracking und ein Landeschef im Vorwahlkampf: Warum die Bürger dem Frieden mit der OMV nicht trauen.

please see the full April 4, 2012 article at –

The original article was of   December 17, 2011, and we posted it following a meeting of Eurosolar Austria.


(c) DiePresse

vergrößern (means enlarge the map)

Bedeutung der „Bruderschaft“ nimmt ab.


Like all the rest of Europe, Austria switched from oil to natural gas. This is a less polluting energy carrier and emits less CO2, but then – where do you buy the gas?

From the Netherlands – that is OK, or what about North Africa, Russia, Central Asia, and that means dependence on sources that may be friendly today but may use political pressure tomorrow?  The import of the gas via pipelines or huge boats of liquefied gas, means also serious outflow of Euro, dollars, or whatever National currency you have – not very good at times of budding recession.

Further – bringing the gas in by ship requires the building of high pressure unloading stations that people do not consider safe in their backyards;  pipelines depend very much on the countries in transit, and a dispute relations of the Ukraine and the Russian Federation had serious impact on the gas supplied to the European Union.  The Austrian OEMV got involved in plans for the Nabucco pipeline from Central Asia via Turkey to Austria, and found that Russia will retaliate by directing the planned South Stream pipeline not to touch Austrian land. The recent announcement by OEMV of huge finds of Shale-gas, just North North-East of  Vienna, must be viewed in above context.

A small, integrated oil-shale operation has been conducted at Puertollano since about 1922 by a French company, Sociedad Mimora y Metalurgica de Penarroya, hereinafter referred to as “Penarroya”, but only during WWII have the potentialities of the Spanish oil-shale deposits been recognized.

Empresa Nacional “Calvo Sotelo” do Combustibles y Lubricantes, hereinafter designated as “Calvo Sotelo,” which was created in 1942 by the National Industrial Institute of Spain to produce liquid fuels from oil shales, has made marked progress in the design and construction of a complete oil-shale plant at Puertollano. Penarroya is mainly a coal-mining company, and the oil-shale operations were on a small scale of approximately 220 tons a day in October 1947. It is an integrated operation comprising oil-shale mining and retorting and shale-oil refining. Motor gasoline, Diesel fuel oil, light burner fuel oil, lubricants, paraffin wax, cresols, and ammonium sulfate were manufactured.

The problem is in the nature of the finding. Shale is a stone – it contains hydrocarbons in a polymeric form called Kerogen. When heated in a retort the kerogen breaks down and yields oil and gas. In 1959 I watched this being done in above-ground retorts at the Puertollano plant, the Ciudad Real region of Spain. The governmental Calvo Sotelo company was doing this with lubricants as the prized product. The plant was planned still during WWII by the Franco government, and became a reality only after the war with the help of French engineering companies. The original idea was to produce liquid fuels as a substitute for the petroleum that was hard to obtain during the war years. The Puertollano plant was dismantled, and sold for scrap metal in 1968, as by then Petroleum was cheap and plentiful on the global market. With the first energy constraint of 1972-1973 there was general interest in oil-shales but the  Spanish experience was history by that time.  Brazil picked up with a company called Petrosix,  and in the US The Oil Shale Corporation was formed, with competition from Paraho, The Occidental Company, and Exxon.

The Brazilian Oil Company Petrobras started oil shale processing activities in 1953 by developing Petrosix technology for extracting oil from oil shale of the Irati formation.
A 5.5 metres (18 ft) inside diameter semi-works retort (the Irati Profile Plant) with capacity of 2,400 tons per day, was brought on line in 1972, and began limited commercial operation in 1980. The first retort that used the Petrosix technology was a 0.2 meters (0.7 ft) internal diameter retort pilot plant started in 1982. It was followed by a 2 metres (6.6 ft) retort demonstration plant in 1984. A 11 meters (36 ft) retort was brought into service in December 1991, and commercial production started in 1992. At present, the company operates two retorts which process 8,500 tons of oil shale daily.

The Petrosix 11 metres (36 ft) vertical shaft retort is the world’s largest operational surface oil shale pyrolysis reactor. It was designed by Cameron Engineers of the US. The retort has the upper pyrolysis section and lower shale coke cooling section. The retort capacity is 6,200 tons of oil shale per day, and it yields a nominal daily output of 3,870 barrels of shale oil (i.e., 550 tons of oil, approximately 1 ton of oil per 11 tons of shale), as well as 132 tons of oil shale gas, 50 tons of liquefied oil shale gas, and 82 tons of sulfur.

Petrosix – as per Qian, Jialin, Wang Jianqiu (2006-11-07) – he said at the “World oil shale retorting technologies” (PDF) – International Oil Shale Conference. AmmanJordan by Jordanian Natural Resources Authority –  it is one of five technologies of shale oil extraction, which is currently in commercial use.

It is an above-ground retorting technology, which uses externally generated hot gas for the oil shale pyrolysis (decomposition by heat). After mining, the shale is transported by trucks to a crusher and screens, where it is reduced to particles (lump shale). These particles are between 12 millimetres (0.5 in) and 75 millimetres (3.0 in) and have an approximately parallelepipedic shape. These particles are transported on a belt to a vertical cylindrical vessel, where the shale is heated up to about 500 °C (932 °F) for pyrolysis. Oil shale enters through the top of the retort while hot gases are injected into the middle of the retort. The oil shale is heated by the gases as it moves down. As a result, the kerogen in the shale decomposes to yield oil vapor and more gas. Cold gas is injected into the bottom of the retort to cool and recover heat from the spent shale.

Cooled spent shale is discharged through a water seal with drag conveyor below the retort. Oil mist and cooled gases are removed through the top of the retort and enter a wet electrostatic precipitator where the oil droplets are coalesced and collected. The gas from the precipitator is compressed and split into three parts.

One part of the compressed retort gas is heated in a furnace to 600 °C (1,112 °F) and recirculated back to the middle of the retort for heating and pyrolyzing the oil shale, and another part is circulated cold into the bottom of the retort, where it cools down the spent shale, heats up itself, and ascends into the pyrolysis section as a supplementary heat source for heating the oil shale. The third part undergoes further cooling for light oil (naphtha) and water removal and then sent to the gas treatment unit, where fuel gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are produced and sulfur recovered. Above tells us that this above ground retorting of the shale is done so that oil is the outcome and the by-product gasses are used to provide the energy for the process. One major problem is what to do with the heavy metals rich spent shale that cannot be discarded without damaging neighboring undergound water or rivers.

One further drawback of this process is that the potential heat from the combustion of the char contained in the shale is not utilized.  Also, oil shale particles smaller than 12 millimetres (0.5 in) can not be processed in the Petrosix retort. These fines may account for 10 to 30 per cent of the crushed feed. The above process was similar to the process used by the Spanish Calvo Sotelo company at Puertollano, and the Oil Shale Corporation method used in Colorado. A TOSCO II system, the reworked US Oil Shale Corporation technology, used a rotating drum and Alumina balls in the retort and the  spent shale is transferred to a furnace where residue-carbon is burned off to provide reheating of the balls.
The main advantages of the Tosco system are the relatively high throughput rates achieved inproportion to the size of equipment, and the production of high-BTU off-gas since there is no dilution thereof by combustion products. However, one serious disadvantage of the Tosco process has been just how to separate the alumina bals lfrom the spent shale.

As a result of the 1972-1973 energy crisis, the United States got interested in oil shales as a strategic fuel and I found myself involved first with TOSCO, then with the Hudson Institute in formulating what became the only Energy Policy the US ever had – that was the government funded “THE SYNFUELS CORPORATION” which allowed private companies to try to develop commercial technologies. Needles to say – the money was spent by the oil companies but no tangible results were returned to the government.

{My last involvement with oil shale technology was when I was contracted to write the issue paper on the use of shales for the 1981 UN Conference on NEW and RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY at Nairobi. Oil Shales, coal liquids and gases were the “NEW” sources of Energy at the UN – The Canadian tar sands and Venezuela’s heavy crudes were not part of the conference discussions.}

Wikipedia posted: “The Synthetic Fuels Corporation was a U.S. government-funded corporation established in 1980 by the Synthetic Fuels Corporation Act to create a financial bridge for the development and construction of commercial synthetic fuel manufacturing plants (such as coal gasification) that would produce alternatives to imported fossil fuels. The Great Plains coal gasification plant in Beulah, ND, still producing natural gas and sequestering carbon in 2009 , was built with the support of the Department of Energy and applied for further support by this corporation, partly as a result of efforts by Reagan’s Energy Secretary James B. Edwards. The corporation was abolished in 1985.

Oil Shales were part of these sponsored corporations as promoted during the Gerald Ford Presidency 1974-1977. The 1980 – “the Synthetic Fuels Corporation Act” was then passed under President Carter and eventually killed under President Reagan. Whatever the policy – it was still a pro-petroleum policy.

The Colony Shale Oil Project was an oil shale development project at the Piceance Basin near Parachute CreekColorado. The project consisted of an oil shale mine and pilot-scale shale oil plant, which used the TOSCO II retorting technology, developed by Tosco Corporation. Over time the project was developed by a consortium of different companies until it was terminated by Exxon on 2 May 1982 a day which is known amongst locals as “Black Sunday”.

Shale Oil History at Parachute Creek, Colorado:

The project started in 1964 when Tosco, Standard Oil of Ohio, and Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company formed the Colony Development joint venture.[4] The aim of the newly formed joint venture was to develop the Colony Oil Shale Project and to commercialize the TOSCO II technology. Starting in 1965 the consortium operated a shale oil pilot plant and in 1968 the Colony Development started preparatons to build a commercial-scale plant.[5]

In 1969 Atlantic Richfield Company joined the project acquiring part of Tosco’s stake.[5][6] However the commercial project was delayed by economic uncertainties and then resurrected in the 1970s after the Arab oil embargo. In 1972 the consortium stopped the pilot plant and the development of the commercial plant was suspended in November 1974 when more detailed economic studies indicated a more than three times higher cost than previously anticipated.[4][5][7][8]

In 1974 Ashland Oil and Shell Oil Company joined the project.[7][9] In the late 1970s Standard Oil of Ohio, Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, Shell and Ashaland Oil sold their shares to Atlantic Richfield Company.[7][10][11] As a result of these transactions Tosco owned 40% of shares and Atlantic Richfield Company owned 60% of shares in the project.

In 1980 Atlantic Richfield Company sold its share to Exxon for $300 million.[6] In 1981 the Colony Development started a construction of the commercial scale shale oil plant.[3] On 2 May 1982 Exxon announced the termination of the project because of low oil-prices and increased expenses laying off more than 2,000 workers resulting in the date becoming known among locals as “Black Sunday”.[1][2][3] According to the shareholders agreement in a case of project termination Exxon had an obligation to buy out Tosco’s shares. It paid $380 million worth of compensation.[6]

During its existence the project produced 270 thousand barrels (43×103 m3) of shale oil.[4]

I felt obliged to talk first about the above-ground retorting of the oil-shale as this taught us about problems that will occur OUT-OF-SIGHT if one works underground as well.
The dislodgement of heavy metal compounds and the poisoning of water resources is to be expected – no surprise thereof.

Others, like the Schlumberger Corporation started to eye the Shale Gas & Liquids production in situ – thus avoiding the mess above-ground that made for easy criticism. But doing it underground – who will see that? The idea was – in situ retorting that involves heating the oil shale while it is still underground, and then pumping the resulting liquid to the surface.

To the Americans it sounded at first like a great idea: While oil shale is found in many places worldwide, by far the largest deposits in the world are found in the United States in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable; however, even a moderate estimate of800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, the estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from the Green River Formation would last for more than 400 years. In theory – for those pushing for the continuation on the dependence on an oil economy – this was a great idea. In practice it did not work – this because despite the great fires underground only very little oil came out above ground – and those were still the days that the industry was looking for oil and was not interested in developing sources of gas that had the potential to compete with their oil refineries.

For those interested in more about the US search for new feeds to the petroleum refinery – here a link to a RAND Corporation study:

But things change and the US has learned to use gas – this by learning it from the European experience.

So, now gas is in demand and gas can be obtained from these underground shales with us not seeing how it is done – and that is very important to realize!





OMV findet riesiges Gasfeld in Niederösterreich.

Gas für mehr als 30 Jahre: Im Norden von Niederösterreich sollen gewaltige Erdgasmengen schlummern. Die OMV sucht nach Wegen, sie zu fördern.


Poysdorf ist vor allem durch seine Weine – insbesondere den DAC – bekannt. Die Stadt im nö. Weinviertel könnte demnächst aber schon ein ganz anderes Image bekommen: Denn die OMV AG will rund um die Weinstadt Gas fördern. Nicht konventionelles Erdgas, sondern Shale-Gas, deutsch: Schiefergas. Dabei handelt es sich um natürliches Erdgas, das in Tonsteinen entsteht und gespeichert wird. Seine Gewinnung ist technologisch sehr anspruchsvoll, aber durch die steigenden Gaspreise zunehmend rentabel.

Das Gasvorkommen soll dort derart groß sein, dass der österreichische Inlandsbedarf auf lange Zeit – Insider sprechen von 30 Jahren und mehr – zu 100 Prozent abgedeckt werden könnte.

“Ja, das Shale-Gas-Vorkommen wird dort als sehr mächtig eingeschätzt. Bis wir aber so weit sind, dass wir das Gas auch fördern können, dauert es noch einige Jahre. Abgesehen davon muss die Förderung sowohl technisch möglich als auch wirtschaftlich sein”, bestätigte am Dienstag eine OMV-Sprecherin.

vergrößern (enlagement)

Bedeutung der „Bruderschaft“ nimmt ab.

The OEMV company, intends to start first drilling experiments at Poysdorf and Herrnbaumgarten already February 2012 and aims at commercial production by 2014. The two mayors of the above named locations seem to go along with these plans and expect windfall of profits from the oil company.

The way OEMV has explained the project to the local people it says that the fracking process is a hydraulic pressure attack against walls of shale that stand between us and pockets of gas which they call shale gas rather then Natural Gas. I wonder if anyone has asked the oil people to explain the difference in clear terms. They also say that chemicals are needed in order to avoid biological processes that lead to the closing up of the pipes and state that they will not use pesticide chemicals but natural means. This is not clear to us and we wonder what other events will occur undergroup besides the application of pressure in mechanical ways. What chemical reactions, or thermal reactions, are intended and what organic chemicals and heavy metals are expected to be found in the returning water and in the effluents that will reach the underground water.

It seems that Poland, Germany, and France were also looking at production of shale-gas, but while in Poland there is high enthusiasm by a people that are struggling to disengage themselves from the dependence on Russian gas – a highly inflamed political and economic issue, in France the government has decided not to proceed to extract the gas. The protest from an environmentally conscious population  led to this stand by the government.

The gas production in Austria is intended at above two locations in the Wine-Quarter (Vineviertel) outside Vienna with some of the local people, led by local officials of the Green Party, state that the region lives from tourism, Wine, and ambiance and if known as the Gas-Quarter (Gasviertel) all this will be lost.

December 2 and 3, 2011 papers printed the news of a press conference in the Vine-Quarter as in:

and today – December 17, 2011, the Wiener Zeitung had another series of three articles on the subject – both as related to Austria and Poland.

“It is, after all, wine district and not gas-quarters” – By Christian Roesner

  • Poysdorf and Mr. Baumgarten will take place in 2012 drilling.

It also mentions that Fritz Gall, head of Nonmuseums in  Baumgarten: said “Fossil energy is not the official line of Austria in terms of energy policy.” Gall is about to establish a platform and invite independent experts to the local population to offer also other perspectives than those of OMV.…

Ein Totenkopf gegen das Aufreißen: Frankreich gilt nach Polen als das Land mit dem höchsten Schiefergasvorkommen in Europa. Doch nach vielen Demonstrationen hat Paris im Sommer den Abbau von Schiefergas mittels hydraulischem Fracturing verboten.

Ein Totenkopf gegen das Aufreißen: Frankreich gilt nach Polen als das Land mit dem höchsten Schiefergasvorkommen in Europa. Doch nach vielen Demonstrationen hat Paris im Sommer den Abbau von Schiefergas mittels hydraulischem Fracturing verboten.

Huge shale gas reserves make Poland independent from Russia

Freedom, equality, gas

  • The price could be high for environmental damage.
  • Shale gas is the so-called “Game Changer” for Europe?


Drill deep cracks in the earth  – but only for 80 years.

By Eva Stanzl

  • Shale gas would quadruple natural gas deposits in Europe or tripled.
People do worry about the effects of the gas production on the environment and things get worse when groups like EUROSOLAR Austria, get angree at this because they believe that there is no need to follow the dictum of the oil industry in order to stay dependent on oil and gas when renewable energy is possible and the sun is a main supplier.

Why let OEMV spend 130 million Euro, to just start these experimental drillings when the government provides only for 50 million Euro for the safer whole renewable energy yearly allowance? Investing in Renewables seems rather a safer way of detaching from fossil fuels – even in economic terms – not just environmental.
Thursday December 15, 2011, The monthly discussion table of the Vienna EUROSOLAR group had the time dedicated to Shale Gas – this being an exception as the group deals with renewables. This exception was obviously prompted by the worries that the shale gas project could derail the interest in renewables by creating in the minds of some of the people that this false saviour could answer the need for more energy independence – as it is felt seemingly in Poland.
Ing. Herbert Eberhart brought along the GASLAND documentary of the International WOW Company that showed the effects of shale oil production in the US.
The film talks about the Green River shale area in Wyoming, the old area of the attempt to produce Shale Oil, and moves to the Chesapeake area, to Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale up to New York State and the endangered Croton River water system that supplies the New York City water. We lean about the Cabot Oil & Gas Company and Halliburton – the company that was under the leadership of Vice President Dick Cheney.  Under Mr. Cheney’s days at the White House laws were changed and Federal Lands in the West opened to exploitation for oil and gas by private companies. It turned out that things were as in a song that said: “YOUR LAND – MY LAND – GASLAND” – and people were left in unhealthy conditions because of the effects of this drilling for gas.
What attracted my attention was a hearing in US Congress where the gas producing companies refused to divulge the chemicals they were using in those pipes and personally I was left with the uncertainty that perhaps we do not even know what actually is being done underground. The analysis of water from the home taps in the area of production shows the presence of some 596 chemicals including Naphthalene, Methyl Pyridine etc. –  as these are probably not chemicals used as inputs – it means they are results of breakdown of the Kerogene – thus reminding me of the spent shale from above ground retorting and this is an old NO! NO!
Important to note that the same companies working in the US are now lining up to work also in Europe – and Poland was their port of entree. Will Halliburton be as well the technological outfit that will be used by the Austrian OEMV?
From the Financial Times of December 17, 2011, we learn:

“The recent revelation that PetroChina successfully extracted natural gas from shale formations in China’s Sichuan Basin has confirmed the commercial viability of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, in the country. The news also confirmed the major export opportunity that has emerged for the growing number of American companies that produce the array of equipment, chemicals and technologies that will be needed to exploit China’s vast shale gas reserves. At an estimated 1,275 trillion cubic feet, these reserves comprise the world’s largest source.”

“Chinese shale gas developments herald major US industrial export opportunities,” and “the companies with the know how are the American companies – oil field service majors like Baker Hughes, Halliburton, and National Oilwell Varco as well as ITT’s water treatment spin-off, Xylem. Barclays Capital oilfield services analyst, James West, expects US companies like these will add a combined USD 8 to 10bn in shale gas-related equipment and services economic activity over the next year.”

Will the results look like what one seen is GASLAND?

The Tursday evening event at EUROSOLAR turned out to be a five hours affair. After the 90 minutes documentary came the actual meeting of EUROSOLAR with a guest presentation by Green Member of Parliament of Lower Austria, Mrs. Amrita Enzinger who is active in bringing to the public’s attention the dangers inherent in the extraction of the shale gas as experienced in the United States. Lower Austria is not the county in Wyoming that has only 600 residents that was mentioned in the documentary – and that is why the issue deserves a more serious go-through then an agreement with two mayors that might be ill advised in their effort to bring some fast money to their area and forfeiting the future of the area.

The moderator of the evening was energy autarky proponent,businessman Hermann Mentil, former Member of Parliament and  present was also a specialist on energy from Poland.
The meeting was followed by a very interested Q&A period.


Wiener Zeitung

19. Dezember 2011


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