A development to watch that has big geopolitical implications.


TomCo Energy is a London-based company which owns leases on over 3000 acres of oil shale land in Utah’s Uintah Basin. As I have noted several times (most recently just last week), the Uinta Basin is the site of the massive Eocene Green River Shale formation – potentially the largest reservoir of unconventional petroleum in the world. With total reserves estimated at up to 1.3 trillion barrels, and ultimately recoverable reserves of 800 billion barrels or more , this formation holds three times or more the amount of Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves. Unlocking this formation would change the energy outlook of the nation – and of the world – for a century or more.

Today, TomCo has announced that it has awarded contacts toward the development of this resource. These are pre-development contracts intended to provide the baseline operational and environmental information required to move forward.

There is a long way to go in developing this resource. As I have noted in the past, the Uinta Basin is a place of scenic beauty and we can anticipate very strong resistance from environmental interests on any development. However, TomCo will be able to avoid the most visible environmental damage by refraining from traditional mining methods. TomCo envisions using an in situ heating process to develop their lease blocks. They plan to use what they call a new type of heating process called EcoShale In-Capsule technology. While the EcoShale process sounds similar to the in situ process long under development by Shell Oil, a major difference seems to be in the use of water. Shell’s process was said to utilize three barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced. The EcoShale process, on the other hand, claims to use no water. If so, this would of course be a tremendous development and would disarm one of the main points of attack against shale oil development. If successful, TomCo’s development would mark the beginning of The Second Age of Oil.