August 1, 2011

Cover Story

Energy Development in Utah

Gov. Gary R. Herbert sent a strong message to Washington during his State ...Read More

Featured Articles

Around Utah

At Your Service


Legal Briefs
Climate Change

Ask the Experts
Close to Home

Ask the Experts
Damage Control

Editor's Note
Do the Math

Economic Insight
Friends in High Places

In the Pipeline

Ask the Experts
Layered Security

Let’s Make a Deal

Business Trends
Look Before You Leap

Out of Reach

Ramping Up

Industry Outlook

Living Well
The Suite Life

Ask the Experts
Web Insights

Money Talk
Window of Opportunity

Work of Art

Ask the Experts
Close to Home

Alex Lawrence

Jenni Smith



Energy Development in Utah

Weighing the Costs and Benefits

Heather Stewart

August 1, 2011

The company has obtained a large mine permit from the Utah Department of Oil, Gas and Mining, but the permit is under appeal by Living Rivers, an environmental organization that is working to protect and restore rivers in the Southwest.

Red Leaf Resources has completed a pilot project and plans to ramp up to a small mining operation on state land this year. The company’s patented process involves encapsulating mined shale in a clay shell, then heating the shale with natural gas heaters. When the process is completed, the capsule is simply left in place and the surface reclaimed through seeding.

Laura Nelson of Red Leaf points out that the process uses almost no water and emits two-thirds less carbon dioxide than traditional methods of processing oil shale.

An Estonian company, Enefit, recently purchased large oil shale holdings in Utah. The company’s technology “does not need to be proven,” says Chairman Harri Mikk, who points out that Enefit has successfully operated an oil shale plant in Estonia for decades.

Enefit’s process involves mining the shale then transporting it to a plant for processing. Mikk expects it to take up to six years to obtain the necessary permits to begin its Utah operations. At the earliest, the company will produce its first oil in 2019.

Many remain skeptical that developing oil shale is technologically, financially or environment- ally feasible.

None of the BLM’s demonstration projects have moved forward, points out Bloch. “So we don’t know what the true environmental or economic costs are going to be, but what we’ve seen so far is significant amounts of water in a state and in a region that needs every drop of water that it has, significant air pollution, and in a place like the Uinta Basin, which is exceeding federal air quality standards on an annual basis in the wintertime.”

The economics don’t add up either, he says. “If these companies could make synthetic crude for $30 a barrel—which all of them say is possible—they’d be doing it right now.”

Nelson implies that the benefits of developing oil shale resources may outweigh environmental costs. “When we rely on the rest of the world to meet our energy needs, we are simply exporting the environmental problems,” she says.

And helping the country reduce its dependence on foreign oil also has national security implications, says Lucero. “If we need the oil and we need the gas and we’ve got it here, it’s still far better than always importing everything.”

Page 1234
Utah Business Social
UB Events View All
Fast 50 Utah Business Event
Aug 27, 2015
The top 50 companies will be selected based on a combination of revenue growth and revenue genera...
Job Summit - POSTPONED UNTIL FALL 2015 Utah Business Event
Sep 24, 2015
NOTE: The date listed below is not secured. We will update as the event gets closer. Thank you ...
Community Events View All
Secrets to Financing Your Business
Aug 4, 2015
Join us for a complimentary educational presentation SECRETS TO FINANCING YOUR BUSINESS Sponsor...
Sandler Foundational Selling Strategies
Aug 4, 2015
How committed are you to improving your sales process, techniques and mindset? Sandler Trainin...  |  90 South 400 West, Ste 650 Salt Lake City, Utah 84101   |  (801) 568-0114

Advertise with Utah Business

Submit an Event

* indicates required information
* Event Name:
Price (general):
Website (if applicable):
Coordinator's Name:
Coordinator's Email:
Coordinator's Phone:
Venue Name:
Venue Address:
Venue City:
Venue Zip:
Event Capacity:
* Event Description: