Glen Davis Shale Oil Works
The Glen Davis Shale Oil Works was a shale oil extraction plant in Glen Davis, New South Wales, Australia which operated from 1940 until 1952 and was the last oil-shale operation in Australia until the Stuart Oil Shale Project in the late 1990s. For the period of 1865–1952, it provided one fifth of the shale oil produced in Australia.
The shale oil industry at Glen Davis was developed for production of shale oil for national defence purposes, although the basis of this project was the 1934 report of the Newnes Investigation Committee, which looked at ways to decrease the number of unemployed miners in the region. The project was operated by National Oil Proprietary Pty. Ltd., a company created as a special purpose vehicle by G. F. Davis of Davis Gelantine. A public notice in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, on 28 May 1936, invited offers for developing the oil industry in the Glen Davis area. The company was established by private interests with financial support from the Commonwealth of Australia and New South Wales governments.
Construction of the shale oil works started in 1938 and the plant was commissioned in 1939, with operations starting on 3 January 1940. During World War II, shale oil produced by the Glen Davis Shale Oil Works was considered to be a strategic resource. In 1941, 4,273,315 imperial gallons (19,426,870 l; 5,132,037 US gal) of shale oil were produced.
In 1942, under the National Security Act, the government took over the company and in August 1949 acquired the private shareholdings. After expansion in 1946, a shortage of mined shale reduced its output. In December 1950, it was decided to end the project. In 1951, the last full year before closure, it produced only 1,452,000 imperial gallons (6,600,000 l; 1,744,000 US gal). Government funding ceased in 1952, and Glen Davis was closed on 30 May. Although some syndicates had an interest to the facility, no deal was concluded. The closure caused a strike by miners, which ended after 26 days without success when the Australian Council of Trade Unions decided not to support the strike.
The 55,000 acres (22,000 ha) mining and shale oil extraction complex was located in Gindantherie, Goolloinboin, Barton, Glen Alice, and Capertee parishes of Cook and Hunter counties. The plant used room-and-pillar mining techniques, and employed 170 miners. The shale was crushed by a Pennsylvania single-roll type crusher and was then conveyed into the retorts.
The company planned to use two tunnel ovens, each with a daily capacity of 336 tons, designed by AS Franz Krull of Estonia and Lurgi AG of Germany, similar to those used by some oil shale industries in Estonia. However, for economic reasons, it was decided in March 1939 to instead use a technology that had been employed in the closed Newnes Shale Oil Works, and 64 modified Pumpherston retorts were transferred from Newnes. Other equipment was imported from the United States, including a second bench of 44 retorts added in 1946. Retorts were heated by coal obtained from nearby coal mines.
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