Tar Sands World for the week (November 26, 2013).

Perhaps the biggest news in extreme extraction in the last week comes from a tiny country. Estonia, the lone veteran nation-state of converting kerogen oil shale into mock fuel, has joined the International Energy Agency. A body that is only open to OECD countries, Estonia has not been a part of the organization in the past. Given requirements of 90 day stockpiling and the ability to implement 10% consumption “restraint” as a part of membership, Estonia– whose oil shale industry accounts for over 90% of local energy (both shale fired power plants as well as kerogen shale into oil)– is likely banking this “normalizes” oil from kerogen and shale-fired electricity.

The IEA coordinates energy policy, including stocks, & integrates energy across member countries to a large degree. Estonia is doing in Europe much the same as Canada’s tar sands lobbyists (otherwise known as the Harper Government). Advocating against the Fuel Quality Directive, Estonia has also argued against the inclusion of clauses that Canada is desperately trying to avoid.


Estonia, using a “carbon intensity” type of argument similar to Canada over the years, has been slowly moving toward more synthetic oil and other fuel production from kerogen shale. In Estonia today well in advance of 80% of the local energy grid continues to be run through shale burning power plants. The government argues that moving away from direct electricity burning and towards synthetic fuel production reduces the carbon intensity of energy extraction, and thus should be encouraged– as opposed to discouraged through the FQD and vastly escalating costs for kerogen-based fuels as compared to conventional oil.

Once integrated inside the IEA, oil shale reserves begin to get more directly integrated into over-all oil reserves for the combination of 28 countries– mostly European, but also Canada, US, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Korea. Hoping for a trojan horse effect, the goal however is likely far beyond Europe and the EU’s FQD.

The state corporation Eesti Energia is behaving very aggressively in pursuing international locales to expand the kerogen industries. Though Estonia is inside the EU, the target locales would not be impacted by the FQD when the plant is in the Middle East and so is the consumption point. EE, the larger of the three state corporations in Estonia that play with kerogen shale.

While the largest shale into oil plant– The Narva Oil Plant– on earth is in Estonia, that is in part because the industry is only now about to proceed internationally. Estonia does not have even close to the largest oil shale potential on the planet. That, by many multitudes, resides with the United States.

Estonia’s EE (outside Estonia usually operating under subsidiary name, Enefit) is making investment and expansion plans for multiple countries. The FQD may in all likelihood damage plans for local extraction in Estonia as well as in Serbia at Aleksinac, and possible extraction facilities near Frankfurt in Germany. This matters; Estonia was the fastest growing economy in the EU for 2011. This past year saw EE open Narva as the now uncontested largest single oil from kerogen shale plant on earth.

The main places EE wants to expand into are Jordan, Morocco and the United States, however. This is where the IEA can really work extreme extraction magic for Estonia and EE. As Enefit, the EE subsidiary, continues to expand around the planet membership in the IEA may make it easier to conflate these oil shale resources with over-all barrels of oil numbers.

While Estonia joins the IEA, the works of EE among other would-be pioneers of kerogen shale are helping Jordan and Morocco join another exclusive oil club– the despotic, pro-US monarchs club of the Gulf Co-operation Council. The GCC involves only oil producers– Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar– and only rancid monarchies that have been using their various spy networks to dismantle the Arab Spring from within. Jordan and Morocco, traditionally with no listed oil reserves, otherwise are perfect for the reactionary club: Corrupt monarchs who engage free trade deals with western nations, help the US, Canada and Europe attack countries such as Iraq and Libya, and quietly tolerate Israel’s expansion in the region.

Morocco and Jordan, with newly signed deals for the exploitation of shale into oil, are also showcasing the commercialization of kerogen on an international scale. Both militarily but also economically, GCC membership for the Kingdoms integrates into the west more completely.

With “success” in these ventures, the most important expansion– into the giant Green River Formation in the United States– can ever become a reality sooner. EE and Enefit already have a toe hold inside Utah in the United States. If the IEA recognizes oil shale as a part of reserves for Estonia just as it has recognized tar sands reserves for Canada– then it is a tiny leap to doing so in the US.

The global tar sands and fracking expansions are a nightmare, but oil shale as a major, expanding industry is beyond the end game. The ‘guess-timated’ 2 Trillion recoverable barrels in the GRF alone could be ten times larger than the Canadian tar sands deposits combined. The human species could not survive long enough to burn off all of it, even if attempting such were merely an industrial hobby.

It is a terrifying ending to a story that has no possible script; No motion picture could ever sell something as dark and dire as the human future with that much carbon emitted into it. Truth is always stranger than fiction. But history has not been written yet. There are parts of the script to be hammered out. Information connecting the scenes of the climate crimes where such developments happen must be spread.