Sometimes known as ‘the rock that burns’, oil shale is an organic-rich sedimentary rock containing kerogen, an organic chemical compound that when heated can produce oil.
Oil shale deposits vary considerably in nature and yield around the world. In Australia the largest deposits are in Queensland, and were formed around 40 million years ago in a lacustrine, or freshwater lakes environment. (see Oil Shale Formation). Total oil reserves in Queensland oil shale deposits total more than 20 billion barrels, while global estimates of oil shale reserves are around 3 trillion barrels.