Controversial oil shale market worth nearly $3bn this year
Unrest in the Middle East and increasing scarcity of oil resources means the controversial use of oil shale could become more main-stream.
Like its gas counterpart oil shale has been used around the world in various places for more than 150 years, however high costs and environmental impacts means the practice has not taken off on a commercial level.
In a new report by independent business information service Visiongain The Oil Shale Market 2011-2021 estimates the global oil shale market.
It defines the markets worth in terms of spending on new infrastructure, upgrading of existing oil shale facilities and funding for research and development to be worth $2.88bn this year alone.
The report goes on to say while the oil shale industry faces 'restraints' in proving the effectiveness of some of the new technologies on a commercial scale.
And, 'overcoming' environmental concerns is it likely to provide 'substantial opportunities' for potential investors in the coming decade.
This report also offers an examination of the oil shale market over the next ten years providing detailed market forecasts for each of the regional markets and offering in-depth analysis of the opportunities and challenges facing companies in the oil shale market throughout the world.
Shale oil is found in around 40 countries throughout the world and is transformed into an energy source by heating the shale - through either an in-situ or ex-situ process - to release a substance called kerogen, which can then be refined into oil.
There are estimated to be around 3trillion barrels of shale oil around the globe and a combination of high oil prices, improved extraction technologies and increasing energy demands have pushed producers back toward it.