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Oil shale has been under development in the US since about 1900. The government established the US Naval Oil Shale Reserve in 1912. Since then, billions of dollars and millions of barrels of shale oil have been produced. Over the last century, periods of high oil prices and fears of oil shortage, followed by low prices and abundant oil, have caused a yo-yo effect on both public and private support of oil shale. With today’s very high prices, interest has once again surged.
In June 2005, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a program called RD&D that allowed companies or individuals to lease 160-acre tracts of BLM-managed land for a period of up to 10 years, the purpose of which was research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of oil shale recovery technologies. After successful completion of the required paperwork, six applicants were each awarded a 160-acre lease, with the potential to extend the lease for another five years.
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