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Oil shale back in the picture. With oil prices at $40 and declining crude oil production in most areas, some non-oil-company investors are taking another look at the huge volume of potentially recoverable hydrocarbons in vast oil shale deposits. These occur in several world locations, the US in particular. Looking back some 30 years, shale oil that could be produced at $4 to $5 per barrel was considered attractive at $10 to $11 per barrel oil prices. Prompting this renewed shale oil interest was the fact that the US had become a net oil importer, together with the oil crises of 1973 and 1979.
Although there are Devonian-Mississippian black shales in the eastern US, the main targets were vast deposits in four western US basins: Uinta, Green River, Washakie and Piceance in the Utah, Wyoming and Colorado area; and further concentrated in the Eocene Green River formation. During the 1970s, the government started leasing six 5,100-acre publicly owned tracts in the three states.
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