Timahdit oil shale deposit

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Timahdit oil shale deposit
Location Timahdite
Region Fès-Meknès
Country Morocco
Products Oil shale

The Timahdit oil shale deposit is an oil shale deposit located about 240 kilometres (150 mi) southeast of Rabat near Timahdite, Fès-Meknès, Morocco. It is the second largest oil-shale deposit in Morocco. [1] [2] Geologically, it comprises two basins: El koubbat and Angueur synclines. [3] The oil shale formation is about 70 kilometres (43 mi) long and 4 to 10 kilometres (2.5 to 6.2 mi) wide. The volume of the El koubbat syncline formation is about 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi); the Angueur syncline area is about 100 square kilometres (39 sq mi). [3] [4]

Oil shale Organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen

Oil shale is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock containing kerogen from which liquid hydrocarbons can be produced, called shale oil. Shale oil is a substitute for conventional crude oil; however, extracting shale oil from oil shale is more costly than the production of conventional crude oil both financially and in terms of its environmental impact. Deposits of oil shale occur around the world, including major deposits in the United States. A 2016 estimate of global deposits set the total world resources of oil shale equivalent of 6.05 trillion barrels of oil in place.

Rabat City in Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Morocco

Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and the country's seventh largest city with an urban population of approximately 580,000 (2014) and a metropolitan population of over 1.2 million. It is also the capital city of the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra administrative region. Rabat is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, opposite Salé, the city's main commuter town.

Timahdite Town in Fès-Meknès, Morocco

Timahdite is a town in Ifrane Province, Fès-Meknès, Morocco. According to the 2004 census it has a population of 2507. Located at an altitude of 1800 metres, it lies in the heart of Middle Atlas Mountains, in an area with a harsh climate.

The deposit is estimated to consist of 42 billion tons of oil shale, containing 16.1 billion barrels (2.56×10^9 m3) of shale oil. [1] The oil shale formation's thickness varies from 80 to 250 metres (260 to 820 ft). [3] [4] Its moisture content is 6–11% and sulfur content is about 2%. On average it yields 70 litres (15 imp gal; 18 US gal) of shale oil per one ton of oil shale. [4] As the Timahdit deposit is located near Ifrane National Park and Haut-Atlas Oriental National Park, oil extraction is an environmentally sensitive issue. [5]

Shale oil is an unconventional oil produced from oil shale rock fragments by pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution. These processes convert the organic matter within the rock (kerogen) into synthetic oil and gas. The resulting oil can be used immediately as a fuel or upgraded to meet refinery feedstock specifications by adding hydrogen and removing impurities such as sulfur and nitrogen. The refined products can be used for the same purposes as those derived from crude oil.

Ifrane National Park national park in the Moyen Atlas mountain range, Morocco

Ifrane National Park is a national park located in the Middle Atlas mountain range, in Morocco. Its territory extends over the Western part of the Middle Atlas mountains and areas within the provinces of Ifrane and Boulmane. It was established in 2004,and covers an area of 125.000 ha. Much of the park is forested with Atlas cedar. Ifrane National Park is one of the few remaining habitats for the Barbary macaque, Macaca sylvanus; this primate prehistorically had a much broader range in North Africa, but currently survives as an endangered species in narrowly restricted and fragmented habitats.

The Timahdit deposit was discovered during the 1960s. [6] The deposit was researched and tested during the 1970s and 1980s. [1] The Moroccan Office of Hydrocarbons and Mining (ONHYM) developed and tested a shale oil extraction process called T3 which in 1984–1986 produced approximately 400 tons of shale oil at Timahdit. [7]

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Unconventional oil is petroleum produced or extracted using techniques other than the conventional method. Oil industries and governments across the globe are investing in unconventional oil sources due to the increasing scarcity of conventional oil reserves. Unconventional oil and gas have already made a dent in international energy linkages by reducing US energy import dependency.

Shell in situ conversion process

The Shell's in situ conversion process is an in situ shale oil extraction technology to convert kerogen in oil shale to shale oil. It is developed by the Shell Oil Company.

Oil shale geology

Oil shale geology is a branch of geologic sciences which studies the formation and composition of oil shales–fine-grained sedimentary rocks containing significant amounts of kerogen, and belonging to the group of sapropel fuels. Oil shale formation takes place in a number of depositional settings and has considerable compositional variation. Oil shales can be classified by their composition or by their depositional environment. Much of the organic matter in oil shales is of algal origin, but may also include remains of vascular land plants. Three major type of organic matter (macerals) in oil shale are telalginite, lamalginite, and bituminite. Some oil shale deposits also contain metals which include vanadium, zinc, copper, and uranium.

Oil shale reserves refers to oil shale resources that are economically recoverable under current economic conditions and technological abilities. Oil shale deposits range from small presently economically unrecoverable to large potentially recoverable resources. Defining oil shale reserves is difficult, as the chemical composition of different oil shales, as well as their kerogen content and extraction technologies, vary significantly. The economic feasibility of shale oil extraction is highly dependent on the price of conventional oil; if the price of crude oil per barrel is less than the production price per barrel of shale oil, it is uneconomic.

Oil shale industry

The oil shale industry is an industry of mining and processing of oil shale—a fine-grained sedimentary rock, containing significant amounts of kerogen, from which liquid hydrocarbons can be manufactured. The industry has developed in Brazil, China, Estonia and to some extent in Germany and Russia. Several other countries are currently conducting research on their oil shale reserves and production methods to improve efficiency and recovery. Estonia accounted for about 70% of the world's oil shale production in a study published in 2005.

Shale oil extraction

Shale oil extraction is an industrial process for unconventional oil production. This process converts kerogen in oil shale into shale oil by pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution. The resultant shale oil is used as fuel oil or upgraded to meet refinery feedstock specifications by adding hydrogen and removing sulfur and nitrogen impurities.

History of the oil shale industry

The history of the oil shale industry started in ancient times. The modern industrial use of oil shale for oil extraction dates to the mid-19th century and started growing just before World War I because of the mass production of automobiles and trucks and the supposed shortage of gasoline for transportation needs. Between the World Wars oil shale projects were begun in several countries.

Kukersite light-brown marine type oil shale of Ordovician age

Kukersite is a light-brown marine type oil shale of Ordovician age. It is found in the Baltic Oil Shale Basin in Estonia and North-West Russia. It is of the lowest Upper Ordovician formation, formed some 460 million years ago. It was named after the German name of the Kukruse Manor in the north-east of Estonia by the Russian paleobotanist Mikhail Zalessky in 1917. Some minor kukersite resources occur in sedimentary basins of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Oklahoma in North America and in Amadeus and Canning basins Australia.

Mountain West Energy, LLC is an American unconventional oil recovery technology research and development company based in Orem, Utah. It is a developer of the In-situ Vapor Extraction Technology, an in-situ shale oil extraction technology. The company owns 880 acres (3.6 km2) oil shale leases in the Uintah Basin, Uintah County, Utah.

Oil shale in China is an important source of unconventional oil. A total Chinese oil shale resource amounts of 720 billion tonnes, located in 80 deposits of 47 oil shale basins. This is equal to 48 billion tonnes of shale oil. At the same time there are speculations that the actual resource may even exceed the oil shale resource of the United States.

Oil shale in Jordan

Oil shale in Jordan represents a significant resource. Oil shale deposits in Jordan underlie more than 70% of Jordanian territory. The total resources amounts to 31 billion tonnes of oil shale.

Oil shale in Estonia

Oil shale is a strategic energy resource that constitutes about 4% of Estonia's gross domestic product. The oil shale industry in Estonia is one of the most developed in the world. In 2012, the country's oil shale industry employed 6,500 people – about 1% of the national workforce. Of all the oil shale fired power stations in the world, the two largest are in this country. In 2012, 70% of mined oil shale was used for electricity generation, accounting for about 85% of Estonia's total electricity production. A smaller proportion of the mined oil shale is used to produce shale oil, a type of synthetic oil extracted from shale by pyrolysis, which is sufficient to keep Estonia as the second largest shale oil producer in the world after China. In addition, oil shale and its products are used in Estonia for district heating and as a feedstock material for the cement industry.

Morocco's energy policy is set independently by two agencies the government, the Office of Hydrocarbons and Mining (ONHYM) which sets domestic oil policy and the Office National de l'Electricité (ONE) which sets policy with regard to electricity. The two major weaknesses of the energy policy of Morocco are the lack of coordination between these two agencies and the lack of development of domestic energy sources. Oil exploration has been disappointing, although the country possesses some natural gas reserves that have been exploited. Its hydroelectric potential is considerable and now being tapped. Morocco covers the bulk of its growing energy needs through imports, principally of crude petroleum, which is then refined domestically. Thermal power plants produce much of the country's electricity.

The Fushun process is an above-ground retorting technology for shale oil extraction. It is named after the main production site of Fushun, Liaoning province in northeastern China.

Oil shale in Morocco represents a significant potential resource. The ten known oil shale deposits in Morocco contain over 53.381 billion barrels of shale oil. Although Moroccan oil shale has been studied since the 1930s and several pilot plants have extracted shale oil from the local formations, commercial extraction was not underway as of 2011.

Oil shale in Israel

Oil shale in Israel is widespread but an undeveloped resource, largely because of economic and technological constraints. Israeli oil shales belong to the group of Upper Cretaceous marinite deposits. Although oil-shale deposits may lie under as much as 15% of the country, only a small part of these are mineable. According to the Geological Survey of Israel, deposits that could have the biggest economic potential are located in the northern Negev, the largest being the Rotem-Yamin formation. For several decades, oil shale was used for small-scale power generation at Mishor Rotem. Several Israeli companies have proposed shale oil extraction; testing of the viability of the oil shale industry is currently being undertaken by Israel Energy Initiatives. However, as of 2011, there are no commercial oil shale operations in Israel.

There are oil shale deposits in Australia which range from small deposits to large reserves. Deposits, varying by their age and origin, are located in about a third of eastern Australia. In 2012, the demonstrated oil shale reserves were estimated at 58 billion tonnes. The easiest to recover deposits are located in Queensland.

Tarfaya Basin

The Tarfaya Basin is a structural basin located in southern Morocco that extends westward into the Moroccan territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean. The basin is named for the city of Tarfaya located near the border of Western Sahara, a region governed by the Kingdom of Morocco. The Canary Islands form the western edge of the basin and lie approximately 100 km to the west.


  1. 1 2 3 Dyni, John R. (2010). "Oil Shale". In Clarke, Alan W.; Trinnaman, Judy A. (eds.). Survey of energy resources (PDF) (22 ed.). World Energy Council. p. 116. ISBN   978-0-946121-02-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-04. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
  2. Aboulkas, A.; El Harfi, K. (2008). "Study of the kinetics and mechanisms of thermal decomposition of Moroccan Tarfaya oil shale and its kerogen" (PDF). Oil Shale. A Scientific-Technical Journal. Estonian Academy Publishers. 25 (4): 1–4. doi:10.3176/oil.2008.4.04. ISSN   0208-189X . Retrieved 2011-10-27.
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  6. Sladek, Thomas A. (2010-01-10). Concept Paper for Creating An International Oil Shale Council For the Nations of Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, and Syria (PDF) (Report). MED-EMIP. p. 26. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 3, 2012. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  7. Bencherifa, Mohammed; Alami, A. Chakor; Epifanio, Demarco; Mendonça, Augusto; Allix, Pierre; Sabbag, Jean-Nicolas (2008-10-15). Timahdit Oil Shale Deposit Evaluation - Morocco (PDF). 28th Oil Shale Symposium. Golden, Colorado . Retrieved 2011-10-27.