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Hutton, Adrian; Knapman, Leonie
Mining of Kerosene Shale at Glen Davis: Was It a Success or a Costly Failure?
Transactions of Multi-disciplinary Engineering, Australia
Description of Work
Paper presented at the Second Australasian Conference on Engineering Heritage (2000 : Auckland)
vol. GE26, Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2002, pp. 49-56

The decision in 1937 to establish National Oil Pty Ltd to produce petrol from kerosene shale at Glen Davis was an Australian Commonwealth Government decision. With the threat of World War II, and the possible interruption of overseas petroleum supplies, it appeared that Glen Davis would provide a vital and much-needed resource for a sea-locked country at war. However, after the war, Glen Davis was living on borrowed time. Production expectations were well below maximum and many other factors appeared to work against the venture. Many seemingly logical and technical considerations were changed, delayed and even ignored. The question arises then as to why Glen Davis was set up in the first place when it was doomed by the same organisation that started it - the Australian Commonwealth Government. Operations ceased in June 1952. Hindsight suggests Glen Davis was partly a political exercise. In the end, it did not matter whether poor technologies were used nor how the miners operated, Glen Davis could not succeed. This paper discusses some of the issues, social, technical and engineering, that are interwoven into the fabric of what was Glen Davis, an oil shale venture.