The article provides information on the main methods of the extraction of synthetic (kerogen) oil from oil shale and evaluates the results of the industrial implementation of these methods outside the Russian Federation. According to the US Geological Survey the geological resources of kerogen oil reach 390 billion tons (not including Russia). Oil shale processing methods are divided into ex-situ and in-situ. The main method of producing synthetic oil is the method of ex-situ retorting, while annual production volumes do not exceed 2 million tons. Currently, there are only nine active commercial projects dealing with synthetic oil production: three in Estonia and six in China. Another five projects have pilot status. None of the pilot projects related to application of in-situ methods of the synthetic oil production has entered the commercial phase. All five pilot projects based on in-situ methods in the last two decades have been closed or stopped. Major oil companies such as Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil withdrew from all projects related to the processing of oil shale due to the high energy intensity of the processes and possible serious environmental problems. The processing of oil shale has a significant negative impact on the environment, primarily associated with groundwater and air pollution. The data presented in the article suggests that it is too early to claim a breakthrough in the development of kerogen oil.
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