Key benefits expected from the Rendall process
High-quality synthetic crude oil: High-value, pipelineable synthetic crude oil, low in sulphur, nitrogen and oxygen, and ready for sale to oil refineries in Australia and overseas as a substitute for conventional crude oils.
High oil yield: Conversion of 90% or more of the kerogen (measured as total organic carbon) in the oil shale to synthetic crude oil, that is, approximately double (or more) the typical yield from conventional retort processing.
Low energy consumption: Energy for the process plant will be provided mostly by methane off-gas derived from about 5% of the kerogen in the ore feed (similar to energy needs of oil refineries, met typically by about 5% of crude oil throughput).
Self-sufficiency: In normal operations, internal recycles will be derived entirely from the process itself. Similarly, the methane off-gas (used in process heating, power generation and hydrogen production) and process water (from inherent water in the ore) will be derived largely, if not entirely from the process.
Advanced environmental performance: The totally enclosed process system will deliver an environmental performance similar to an oil refinery of the same capacity, and greatly superior to all conventional oil shale retorting processes, especially in its substantial reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide, and elimination of other noxious and toxic emissions and solid wastes.
Low operating costs: High oil yield and process self-sufficiencies will contribute to low operating costs. Preliminary indications of total operating costs (including mining) in a small commercial Rendall plant at Julia Creek (say, 15,000 bopd) are less than US$30/barrel of synthetic crude oil (late-2011 dollars), and of the order of $20/barrel in a larger plant of one or more streams rated at about 50,000 barrels of oil per day.
Ease of scale-up: All primary equipment in a Rendall process plant are well-proven in similar or comparable large-scale commercial applications—in some cases, operating under significantly more arduous conditions—giving a high degree of confidence in scalability to stream capacities of 50,000 barrels or more of oil per day.
By-products: Spent shale residues will be amenable to hydrometallurgical processing for recovery of mineral by-products. For example, subject to confirmation of economic viability, vanadium and molybdenum oxides may be produced at Julia Creek. In addition, the mineral composition of the spent shale would make it an ideal feedstock for manufacture of Portland cement.