Unconventional Oils are an energy resource that has been around since the late 14th century. Unconventional Oils are carbon based fossil fuels formed over time by algae at the bottom of prehistoric lakes two common forms are kerogen and bitumen. When kerogen or bitumen is processed properly it can be converted into a substance similar to petroleum. However the oil produced is not of an equal quality to that produced from conventional deposits.
Conventional oil was found to be cheaper to produce, the extraction process had been developed to be more efficient, the environmental implications are not as severe and the product is of a higher quality. However due to the coming ‘peak’ oil conventional oil stockpiles are becoming depleted as developing countries like China and India increase their demands for energy. Currently oil production is at a tremendous rate however supply is in decline, with the resource believed to be only capable to meet the world energy demands for a maximum of the next 40 years. This has rejuvenated the large yet difficult to recover unconventional oil stockpile.
Analysis into current oil shale reserves needs to be carried out to determine the practical use for the future. Major issues that will be addressed include determining which countries have this resource as well as the energy needs for that country and whether the current power supplies are sufficient (currently oil shale is being burnt as a very low grade fuel in Estonia out of necessity). Environmental concerns (greenhouse gases and sulphur production) associated with the oil shale industry and the need for new technologies.
The potential for oil shale as an energy resource is tremendous, its abundance in many countries and is found in much greater quantities than oil deposits. Issues including environmental, economical and extraction need to be resolved for oil shale to be considered as a future energy source. Gathering information from the many attempts to utilise this fuel will be instrumental in establishing whether or not this energy source will be viable for future generations.