3718. ---------------. [WILSON, R. E.] Oil for America’s Future. Petrol. Eng., vol. 17, No. 1, 1945, pp. 166, 171, 172, 174.
Digest of testimony presented October 3 before a special congressional committee investigating petroleum resources. Severe possibilities, which eliminate even a remote danger of a petroleum shortage, are discussed. One important possibility is the production of gasoline from natural gas by the Fischer or Synthol process at costs similar to the present costs of production from crude petroleum. By devoting only 1/3 of the present calculated reserves of natural gas to this process, about 500,000 bbl. per day over a period of 25 years could be produced; this amounts to about 30% of our prewar gasoline consumption. Another possibility is that of hydrogenation of our low-grade coals, the reserves of which are virtually inexhaustible. The cost of gasoline on a large-scale operation would be about $0.10-$0.15 per gal. above present gasoline costs. A 3d possibility is the application of the Fischer process to subbituminous and lignite coals. Recent research development enables this indirect method to produce good quality gasoline and diesel fuels at costs not more than $0.05-$0.06 per gal. above present costs. In addition to these methods, there are still the oil shales and oil sands of the United States and Canada to be considered. It is believed, however, that the accessibility and extent of our coal and lignite deposits will make them the most logical major source of petroleum, if and when crude petroleum becomes scarce. The industry regards the use of the above processes as a rather long-range alternative and is, therefore, not likely to spend the large sums required for extensive research nor for building large-scale pilot plants or semicommercial units. The Bureau of Mines program of research and development seems, therefore, to be sound, though the opinion of the industry is somewhat divided on this point. It is urged that the building of semicommercial units should be postponed until much more research and pilot-plant work has been done and until commercialization of the process appears reasonably imminent.