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Oil shales are distributed throughout the world and differ greatly in potential oil content and shale oil characteristics. The oil shale industry uses various techniques to extract oil from within the shale. Commercial processes convert organic matter in the shale, called kerogen, into organic vapour that can be condensed to shale oil or used directly as a gaseous form of energy.
The Stage 1 ATP Demonstration Plant at the Stuart Project in Australia (Processor at lower left)
The ATP uses external fuel for start up and then may be thermally self sufficient since it is able to combust the remaining carbon on the oil shale particles to supply process heat. The shale oil is recovered as a product and off gas can be used as fuel to supplement heat, if required, or it may be used to produce electricity.