QUEENSLAND Energy Resources (QER) has put the wheels in motion to commercialise its shale oil plant, submitting an application to the Department of the Environment.

About six months after the closure of its successfully operated Paraho II technology demonstration plant in central Queensland, the company has kicked off the federal approval process for its commercial shale oil dreams by submitting the application which will be open for public comment.

QER wants approval to construct and operate a commercial-scale processing plant within mining licence 80003 to produce diesel and other liquid fuel products and valuable by-products such as ammonium sulphate salts.

Following the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s recognition of the Paraho process and associated plant as “best practice pollution control technology”, it is proposed that the commercial-scale processing plant would utilise the Paraho retorting process.

The feed material for the processing plant would continue to be oil shale from the Kerosene Creek mineral deposit, QER said in its application.

QER said the majority of construction of processing plant infrastructure would occur off-site and would be delivered to the site as modular units, which would be assembled on-site.

QER already operates an oil shale mining and processing operation at the New Fuels Development Centre at Yarwun. The plant was put on care and maintenance earlier this year following a two-year development program. The plant, which uses lump technology, was able to meet all the performance emission standards as well as state and environmental requirements.

The company has its sights set on taking the plant to a larger, commercial size facility which would have the capacity to produce 8,000 barrels of crude oil per day. However, QER has a long-term goal to get the plant running at a 70,000 barrel a day capacity rate.

QER indicated to Oil & Gas Australia in February that it would require between $750 million and $900 million from investors to construct the large-scale facility.

QER’s vision is to get the full-scale plant up and running as soon as practicable, all the necessary approvals have been obtained, and any prerequisite conditions fulfilled, with production anticipated in 2018.

The commercial operation would have a mine life of about 20 years.

QER said its proposed upgrading plans were not expected to have a significant impact on any conservation significant species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, including the Squatter Pigeon and the Grey-headed Flying-fox which have been recorded within the area.