shale oil works ruins - Glen Davis Capertee Valley NSW

The Glen Davis shale oil extraction plant was developed for production of shale oil for national defence purposes &   operated from 1940 until 1952. The company was established by private interests with financial support from the Commonwealth of Australia & the 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 it produced 4,273,315 gallons of shale oil.

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 gallons. Government funding ceased in 1952 & Glen Davis was closed on 30th May.

The plant used room-and-pillar mining techniques & employed 170 miners. The shale was crushed by a Pennsylvania single-roll type crusher & was then conveyed into the retorts. The oil was treated to create motor oil and was then transported by a 48 km pipeline to storage tanks at Newnes Junction.

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. Sixty-four 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. The retorts were heated by coal obtained from nearby coal mines.