As of early 2013, Brazil is one of only three countries on earth that operates an oil shale mine commercially. Brazilian multinational corporation Petrobras has developed a technology for oil extraction from oil shale mining over several decades. Petrobras seeks not only to expand oil shale mining within Brazilian territory, but also has begun to export the Brazilian technology around the planet, often is teaming up with TOTAL of France in introducing giant industrial oil shale extracting mines-- becoming a thin wedge promoting the expansion of extreme extraction.
Brazil has been identified as having one of the largest oil shale reserves in the world. By far the largest deposits of oil shale in Brazil occur in the southern tip of the country, close to the borders with Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.
Estimates are of 82 billion barrels of oil in place; no estimates made of recoverable reserves (Likely current figure around ten percent, or approximately 8 billion barrels).
Pyrolosis retorting after strip mining currently used; crushed kerogen-infused shale rock is put through a conveyor and kerogen is “bled” out through an intense heating process involving externally introduced gas. Plant operational since 1950's, current capacity is under 4000 bpd.
Plant used as a laboratory for Petrobras for decades, technology researched and refined (patented as “Petrosix” by Petrobras) now being put to use with TOTAL of France elsewhere. Petrobras is a state-owned enterprise of Brazil.
Open cast mines in the region are relatively small as compared to tar sands mines in Canada or older oil shale mines in Estonia. However, the long term projections for this mining have not been released by Petrobras, which is still the third largest producer of oil from shale in the world (after China and Estonia). Water is, as in any such deposit, of great concern. The level of energy needed to go into such a process is extremely high and assures a very damaging climate footprint.
Petrobras is fast increasing its international role, with a growing influence on foreign relations, technological advance and exploration for new deposits. Among these new influences are the large offshore finds for Brazil, along with the move to regional domination of refining and storage capacity in places such as tanker storage farms in the Caribbean. In terms of oil shale and extreme extraction, Petrosix technology planned and executed in southern Brazil is now (alongside international energy giant and tar sands player, TOTAL of France) pushing for major oil shale mining, pyrolysis and refining in multiple countries (Morocco and Jordan to name but two). In terms of spreading the worst technology during a time of rapidly expanding climate change, Petrobras is on the wrong side of climate history.
Petrobras and Brazil, along with Eesti Energia and Enefit of Estonia, are to the expansion of climate destroying oil shale plans what Suncor, TOTAL and Canada are to expanding tar sands operations the planet over.