Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. has succeeded in extracting shale oil from the Ayukawa oil and gas field in Akita Prefecture, a first for Japan, company officials said Wednesday.
From the ground up: A man on Wednesday holds up a sample of shale oil extracted from a field in Akita Prefecture by Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. KYODO Japan is trying to diversify its energy sources and develop untapped resources following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan Times Online reported.
Japan Petroleum, known as JAPEX, succeeded in obtaining crude oil by pumping hydrochloric acid into a shale rock layer about 1,800 meters deep to remove limestone that clogs cracks in the rocks, the officials said. It started drilling Monday.
Shale oil was confirmed after the extracted liquid substance was put into a centrifugal separator.
Interest in developing shale oil, or oil contained in deep underground shale rocks, has been growing globally, with a sharp increase in commercial production of shale oil and gas in the U.S.
JAPEX said it will analyze the ingredients of the crude oil while preparing to dig a new oil well next business year, which starts April 1, and proceed with the drilling process.
The company estimates shale oil deposits at some 5 million barrels for the Ayukawa and neighboring oil and gas fields. For all of Akita, shale oil reserves are projected at 100 million barrels, worth nearly 10 percent of Japan’s annual oil consumption.
“We will continue research to see whether (drilling for shale oil) will be profitable,” said Hiroyuki Yamagishi, head of JAPEX’s technical staff.