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Â©bservations Writes Stanley Outran of Milwaukee: I'm concerned that our countiy has to import nearly half its off. This makes us dangerously dependent on foreign countries, which can jack up the prices or cut off our supples in case of poitical problems. Why cant wo get oÂ» from the big oU shah do- posits in me West? A* the Mying goes, "shale oil has a great future--and always will have." America seems perennially on the verge of a shale oil bonanza. It's estimated that with existing technology, at least 54 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from the huge shale formations in Colorado. Utah and Wyoming. That's more than our country's known recoverable reserves from conventional drilling and equal to half the oil in Saudi Arabia, the country with the world's largest reserves. Trouble is, shale continues to pose serious environmental and economic problems that have yet to be fully solved. The brown or grey sedimentary rock contains about a quarter as much energy as coal and will yield its oil only if heated to extremely high temperatures. To tap its full oil content, the rock must be pulverized. So to get 25 to 30 gallons of oil, you have to crush and heat a ton of shale. What remains after heating and crushing the shale is a dusty residue. And it's about 30 percent greater in volume than the compact shale rock you started with. Because there's so much of it, the spent shale can't simply be pushed back into the mine cavity. Tidy disposal would require millions of gallons of water to cool and wet down the residue from a commercial-size shale operation--a serious problem in the arid West.A possible solution: process the rock within the mine, leaving the spent shale underground. But there's technology still to be worked out on this.. A commercial-size plant to process 100,000 barrels a day of shale oil would cost up to $2 billion. With mat price of admission, companies can't risk building such plants until there's a good prospect of shale oil competing successfully with conventional oil. " IF YOU W/kMT THE GAS. YOU GOTTA TAKE THE ROCKS" Whets needed? Oil companies, including Mobil, have already spent large sums over the years oo shale research. To speed up the process of making shale oil economic, the government, owner of four-fifths of the shale reserves, could provide incentives. It could share the costs of financing large-scale demonstration plants with private industry, so that if and when" shale oil becomes economic--in a decade or so from now--companies will have the know-how for commercial production. Meanwhile, there are several feasible ways to lessen America's risky dependence on foreign oil, which is costing our country more than $25 billion a year. America can use more coal and nuclear power. It can reduce energy waste. And it can step up the search for conventional oil and gas here in the U.S., especially offshore. Which brings up a point we've been stressing: now is no time to be weakening America's oil industry by breaking up the larger, more efficient companies, as some politicians have been proposirfg. Mobil Observations, Box A. Mobil Oil Corporation, 150 EÂ«st 42 Struct, N*w York, N. Y. 10017 O197C Mow CM CuponHon My FAVORITE j by williAM f. buowN EDITOR'S NOTE: William F. Brown is a corned/ writer who has written three Broadway shows--"The CM in the Freudian Slip," "New Faces of '68," and his current hit, the Tony Award-winning musical, "The Wiz." He has also written for nightclub performers and for television--"That Was the Week That Was," "Love, American Styte," and "The Jackie C/eason Show." Brown is an artist as well and co-author of the cartoon strip "Boomer." Though he lives in Connecticut, Brown spends enough time working in New York to enjoy making wry observations about life there. "Taxi rates have gotten so high lately," he says, "that business has really fallen off. The otner day a cabbie followed me for three blocks in the rain,yelling,Taxi, mister? Finally I said,'No,thanks, I'm off duty.'" Here are some of his jokes: I'd lay down a couple of bucks, but I was cured of gambling the last time 1 was in Las Vegas with my family. I was playing roulette, my favorite sport. I bet all the money I had with me on number 7 and lost I bet all the money I had saved Up in the bank on number 7 and lost. I bet my car on number 7 and lost I bet my home, my securities, the 'clothes on my back on number 7 and " lost Finally my wife left me. In desperation I bet my son, my boy, my own flesh and blood on number 7 and won 35 kids. Â· . Some people say the news is manipulated. If that were really so, this is how some events might have been reported: The San Francisco earthquake: "Real Estate Moving in Bay Area." The 1929 crash: "Wall Street Jumping." When Vesuvius erupted, Italian news- T.ZIBELLI "Frankly, Mr. Burmeister, I'm stumped. Suppose for the time being we just say you have Burmeister's Disease." papers would have written: "Rock Croups Hit Pompeii." Â· The Johnstown Flood: "Situation Fluid in Pennsylvania." When the Mexicans captured the Alamo: "Unforgettable Fall in Texas." "Â· Years ago, when they discovered mercury in tuna fish, a promoter tried to interest me in. a mining process for extracting the mercury. Either that or, if the process didn't work, he guaranteed me a fortune by putting tuna fish in thermometers. ON APARTMENT livimq I had an apartment in New York for 13 years. It wasn't a fancy place. I mean the other apartment buildings around it had names like "Envoy Towers," "Executive House," "Regency Arms." This building I was in was just called "Fred." Actually it was quite an old building. As a matter of fact it was the only apartment building in New York with a fallen rock zone in the lobby. I don't mind a few cracks in the walls, but I don't think you should be able to walk through them. The wiring in this apartment of mine was so bad, every time the phone rang, the candles went out. The man who had the apartment next door to me was rather weird. I don't know what he did for a living, but every night he went out with a stocking over his head. I got out when the building went coop. For 13 years I'd been paying $280 a month, and then the landlord asked me to buy it I thought I already had.