A natural resource right in Colorado’s backyard that could supply the country with enough oil for 100 years and billions in revenue for schools and roads – not to mention thousands of high-paying jobs – just got a little further out of reach. Thanks to Governor Hickenlooper’s inability to stand up to anti-energy extremists in his own party, a major oil shale project is leaving Colorado for greener pastures…in Jordan.
WASHINGTON — A decision this week by Shell to shutter its oil shale operation in Colorado to pursue other ventures in Jordan and Canada highlights the difficulties faced by developers in the state as they wrestle with uncertain rules under the Obama administration.
Royal Dutch Shell was one of the most successful companies in the state in its efforts to develop a cost-efficient technique to extract oil from shale rock. But the final act of Ken Salazar as Interior secretary earlier this year to rewrite industry rules left companies in limbo with undeterminable royalty rates, and blocked them from obtaining leases for a majority of federal lands that hold two trillion barrels of recoverable oil…
In statements to the press, Shell said its decision evolved from plans to develop other oil shale assets in the company’s holdings in Jordan and Canada.
“We plan to exit our Colorado oil shale research project in order to focus on other opportunities and producing assets in our broad global portfolio,” the company said.
What happened? Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, an ally of Governor Hickenlooper, threw a monkey wrench into the project as a parting shot in his final days in the Obama administration and Governor Hickenlooper didn’t lift a finger to fight for the Colorado projects:
However, just days before Salazar stepped down as Interior secretary, he declared 66 percent of the available acreage off-limits to development, and created onerous new bureaucratic red tape to discourage production.
While environmentalists will surely blame the challenge of oil shale as the reason for the project’s failure, they will be ignoring the realities of the market. Right now the price of energy used to heat the oil shale — natural gas — is near historical lows, while oil prices remain extremely high. You couldn’t ask for better market conditions for oil shale than right now.
No, it’s not the market. It’s certainty. And Shell was given none by Salazar’s Interior Department.
That’s A-OK with Hickenlooper apparently. The Executive Director of Hickenlooper’s Department of Natural Resources, Mike King, editorialized that Salazar and the Bureau of Land Management’s red tape was the right course of action, calling it a “careful and thoughtful approach to potential development of our oil shale resource.”
Calls for Hickenlooper to intervene on behalf of Colorado’s interests have gone out since Salazar’s BLM first released a draft of the rules in 2012 that effectively led to Shell canceling their project.
But Hickenlooper did nothing. And Jordan reaps all the benefits. King Abdullah says thanks.