TomCo Energy plc (LON:TOM) said it is ready to move onto what it calls the pre-commercial testing phase after an early-stage assessment of technology designed to unlock the hydrocarbon bounty from oil shale.
The company owns the Holliday A Block in Utah in the US, which is rich in the fine-grained sedimentary rock that contains crude oil. It shouldn’t be confused with shale oil, or tight oil, which relies on fracking.
Instead, the Holliday Block’s resource requires heating, which ordinarily isn’t a particularly environmentally friendly method of extraction.
However, TomCo was testing something called RF technology, developed by a company called TurboShale, which overcomes many of the current hurdles and objections.
In an update, the company said early-stage analysis confirmed the method was effective in the heating of shale at the Holiday Block, “though the data collected showed areas which require further optimisation”.
It added that the new information, together with the final core samples that are being extracted later this month, will be analysed with the results to be published shortly afterward.
That said, there is already sufficient reference material to justify the aforementioned larger, pre-commercial testing phase.
And, while the field test was ended before oil was recovered to surface, condensed oil was present within the production well and melted bitumen was found on the ceramics of one of the RF antenna.
This, TomCo said, demonstrated that oil generation had occurred in the heated formation.
Chief executive John Potter added: “There has been a significant development of the understanding of the process and systems during the test and I look forward to announcing these once all the data recovered has been analysed."