April 2016

Utah Ranks Among Top 10 Mining Regions in the World

27 Apr 2016

Utah ranks ninth out of the top 10 in the list of the world’s best investment regions for mining, according to an annual survey of 449 mining executives released by the Fraser Institute – an independent, non-partisan Canadian policy think tank.

 

The Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies, 2015, rates 109 jurisdictions around the world, based on their geologic attractiveness and how much government policies encourage exploration and investment.

 

Nevada and Alaska were the only other U.S. states to make the top 10.

 

Read the Utah Mine Association’s April 2016 Newsletter for more info

Estonia is hosting an International Symposium, “Oil Shale 100,” to celebrate 100 years of oil shale mining

22 Apr 2016

Foto 262From September 20 – 23, Estonia will be hosting an International Symposium, “Oil Shale 100.” The symposium will connect resource holders, technology developers, researchers, government representatives and business leaders from across the world to celebrate a momentous anniversary in oil shale development – 100 years of oil shale mining in Estonia. The event is organized under the leadership of the world´s leading oil shale energy company Eesti Energia, Tallinn University of Technology, and the University of Tartu.

 

According to Hando Sutter, Chairman of the Management Board of Eesti Energia, the symposium will offer unique opportunities to hear about the latest innovations and technology updates, increases in efficiency and applications to reduce environmental impacts.

 

“Estonia is living proof that the oil shale industry can be viable long-term and has remained so throughout the last century. Estonia is the largest oil shale processor in the world, and we have proven technologies for producing both electricity and oil. In addition to developing the world´s largest oil shale industry in Estonia, we are able to export our unique know-how to other resource holding countries,” Hando Sutter noted.

 

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According to Professor Volli Kalm, Rector of the University of Tartu, this is a milestone year for Estonia’s oil shale industry. It marks 100 years since oil shale mining began and for oil shale being the subject of scientifically based research. “Scientific research on oil shale, carried out with the help of Estonian universities, enables the Government to make well-informed decisions so that, through job creation and promotion of innovation in the energy sector, our society can continue to benefit from oil shale in the future,” Kalm said.

 

“When it comes to Estonian research and technology, oil shale science is indisputably world-class. A discussion of the field’s global future presents a big challenge and opportunity for all our researchers and engineers,” observed Jaak Aaviksoo, academician and Rector of the Tallinn University of Technology.

 

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The first oil shale conference was held in Estonia in 1968 at the Tallinn University of Technology. Most recently, Estonia hosted an international oil shale symposium in 2013 with 400 industry professionals from 33 countries attending.

 

The symposium´s panel sessions will be held in Tallinn at Kultuurikatel (Tallinn Creative Hub) on September 20 and 21. A field trip will offer an opportunity to visit industrial-scale oil shale facilities – the 300 MW Auvere Power Plant, and the Enefit280, a combined shale oil, gas, and electricity cogeneration plant, as well as an operational open cast mine. The symposium is being organized in collaboration with the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Estonian Ministry of the Environment, and the Estonian National Committee of the World Energy Council.
Additional information and submission of abstracts:
www.oilshalesymposium.com

Enefit American Oil Welcomes Release of BLM DEIS to Allow Utility Corridor Across Federal Land to Serve Company’s Energy Project

7 Apr 2016

BLM Opens Comment Period and Schedules Three Open Houses in Early May

 

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SALT LAKE CITY – Enefit American Oil (EAO) is pleased that, after more than three years of work, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will release on Friday a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on potential effects of a utility corridor to serve the company’s planned oil shale project in eastern Utah’s Uintah Basin.

 

While EAO’s energy project would be developed on private property the company owns, utilities to serve it must cross federal land, which requires an environmental review process. Uses for the utility corridor include water and natural gas supply lines, 138-kilovolt electricity lines, road improvements, and an oil product pipeline.

 

“We have worked closely and cooperated fully with the BLM and other federal, state and local agencies since the environmental review process began in late 2012,” said EAO CEO Rikki Hrenko-Browning. “Many issues and concerns were identified during the process, and we believe they have been sufficiently addressed to advance approval of the ‘Proposed Action’ to allow the utility corridor.”

 

The BLM has announced that it will accept emailed public comments about the DEIS and Proposed Action through June 14, 2016, at UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov. Three open houses have been scheduled for the public to learn about the environmental document and ask questions of the BLM’s review team. Meetings will be held May 3 in Vernal, Utah, May 4 in Rangely, Colorado, and May 5 in Salt Lake City. Once the Notice of Availability is published in the Federal Register on Friday, the DEIS may be viewed at http://go.usa.gov/csa9j.  

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Responding to critics

 

“We’re aware that many advocacy groups have made, and no doubt will continue to make, comments challenging the need for our project and making allegations about it that are simply not true,” Hrenko-Browning said. “Given that the environmental document, which will be voluminous, won’t be published until Friday, meaning neither EAO nor the dissenters have yet seen the analysis, we encourage people to review it closely before making conclusions.”

 

“It’s also important to remember,” Hrenko-Browning added, “that some groups want to confuse the issue by trying to connect development of the entire project to the utility corridor analysis, while in reality the agency’s decision applies only to the 15 or so miles of BLM land that utilities will cross.”

 

Myth vs Reality

 

Other myths about EAO’s oil shale project that are often repeated by opponents include claims that producing energy from oil shale is not viable, that the production process will use extravagant amounts of water, that EAO’s project is subsidized by the government, and that more energy is used to produce oil from oil shale than the resulting oil provides. All of these assertions are false:

 

  • Viability: EAO’s parent company is the world’s largest producer of oil and electricity from oil shale. In its home country of Estonia, the firm has a 100-year track record of producing electricity and steam heat from oil shale and has produced liquid fuels from mined oil shale for more than 30 years. The largest company in the Baltic nation, it supplies 90 percent of the country’s power. In addition, viable oil shale industries exist in Brazil and China and are being developed in other countries, including Jordan.
  • Water use: “We are very sensitive to the fact that water is an extremely precious resource in Utah’s arid environment,” Hrenko-Browning said. “That’s why we’re committed to designing the project to be a ‘zero liquid discharge’ facility, meaning that all wastewater will be captured and reused on site.

 

“What’s more, no water is used in the raw oil production process itself, but will primarily be needed for dust suppression in the mining operation, as is normal for similar projects. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a 50,000 barrel-per-day oil shale plant – the potential size of EAO’s project if fully developed – would use about 4,000 acre-feet of water per year. That’s about the same amount of water needed to grow 2,000 acres of alfalfa. With that amount of water, EAO could meet one-third of Utah’s current annual liquid fuel demand – an impressive and beneficial use of our water resources.”

 

  • Subsidies: While oil shale projects in the 1970s and ‘80s were subsidized by the U.S. military, those programs no longer exist and EAO’s project is in no way subsidized by government. Nor are the company’s Estonian operations. In fact, the opposite is true: Enefit pays an annual royalty to the Estonian government; in 2015, this amount was 62 million euros (approximately US$68 million).

 

“The BLM’s involvement in preparing an Environmental Impact Statement does not imply any kind of government endorsement either, as some have suggested,” said Hrenko-Browning. “The government is required to conduct an environmental analysis when a request is made by a private company or other organization that could potentially affect federal property.”

 

  • Energy yield. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Petroleum Reserves estimates that oil from surface-mined oil shale can return 10 times or more energy than is used to produce it. That’s similar to the 10.5 average energy return for conventional petroleum. In comparison, producing ethanol from corn actually uses more energy than it returns.

 

“While EAO supports the federal government’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy,” Hrenko-Browning said, “even renewables such as solar and wind have environmental impacts and are entirely dependent on the mining industry to support the vital components that make these renewables possible. There is no magic bullet solution to the energy needs that support our daily activities and the high quality of life that we all enjoy.”

 

EAO’s environmental commitment

 

In addition to progress on the EIS, EAO has participated in a Conservation Agreement recently signed by a wide range of federal, state and local agencies to conserve two sensitive penstemon plants and prevent an endangered species listing. EAO voluntarily set aside more than 1,600 acres of its private property for a penstemon conservation area and is supporting plant surveys and transplantation efforts that are already showing dramatic success.

 

“Enefit American Oil is well qualified to contribute to Utah’s energy security, create long-term jobs, and help meet community goals,” Hrenko-Browning noted. “Our 30-year track record of producing liquid fuels in an environmentally responsible and economically viable manner demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship and desire to work together with our community to develop this project in the most responsible manner possible.”

 

Visit EnefitUtah.com for more information about the company and its Utah Project.

Open Houses Set for Public to Review, Comment on Utility Corridor DEIS for Enefit’s Utah Project

7 Apr 2016

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will host three open houses in Vernal, Rangely and Salt Lake City to allow the public an opportunity to review and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a utility corridor needed to serve Enefit American Oil (EAO)’s Utah oil shale project. The DEIS document will be printed in the Federal Register on Friday, April 8, and can be viewed on the BLM’s project web page at go.usa.gov/csa9j once it is published.

 

The meetings will be held at:

 

  • Uintah County Library, 204 E. 100 North, Vernal, Utah, on Tuesday, May 3, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.;
  • Western Rio Blanco Recreation and Park District, 611 S. Stanolind Avenue, Rangely, Colorado, on Wednesday, May 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.;
  • Hilton Garden Inn, 4975 Wiley Post Way, Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday, May 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The majority of EAO’s proposed project activities are located on private land (including mining, retorting, and upgrading operations). However, EAO requires a right-of-way from the BLM for a utility corridor across federal land. This corridor will house overhead electric transmission lines, buried water and natural gas supply pipelines, a buried product delivery pipeline, and improvement of an existing, unpaved county road.

EAO applied for a right-of-way grant from the BLM in November 2012, and the release of the DEIS represents an important milestone in the company’s project development. The BLM’s DEIS describes potential impacts to the human and natural environment associated with the utility corridor.

 

Utilities Corridor

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Attend the Meetings, Send in Comments of Support

2Supporters of Enefit’s Utah Project are encouraged to attend one of the public meetings to express support. You may also send comments to the BLM at UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov no later than June 14, 2016.

To be most effective, comments in support of the BLM’s “Proposed Action” – granting of a right-of-way across federal land – should be as specific as possible and demonstrate how the corridor complies with or complements existing local, state and federal plans and policies. Here are some reasons why we believe the Proposed Action should be approved and the “No Action” alternative should not be selected:

 

  • The Proposed Action will minimize large truck traffic on local roads by providing important connections to regional utilities, which in turn will prevent harmful tailpipe emissions and reduce the potential for severe transportation-related accidents in our community;
  • The Proposed Action will reduce fugitive dust and improve visibility and safety by paving a section of county road that is currently gravel;
  • The Proposed Action will not be harmful to wildlife or natural areas thanks to Enefit’s commitment to responsible management and restoration of the right-of-way;
  • The Proposed Action avoids and minimizes impacts to sensitive resources thanks to Enefit’s efforts in engineering a “minimal footprint” corridor, such that the environmental quality of these federal lands will continue to have value for present and future generations; and
  • The Proposed Action meets the BLM’s responsibility of multiple use and sustained yield of federal lands under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, providing an important economic return on the use of those lands.

 

Reasons why Enefit believes the BLM should not select the No Action alternative:

  • The No Action alternative would result in significant increases in large truck traffic for transport of Enefit’s products, increasing harmful tailpipe emissions and transportation safety hazards in our community;
  • The No Action alternative has the potential to further “strand” valuable natural resources, in a market where they are already considered stranded, with no measureable benefit to the public or local community; and
  • The No Action alternative is not consistent with the BLM’s land use management responsibilities and objectives and would generate no return to federal government through responsible use of federal lands.

4In addition, supporters may want to reference that the majority of the world’s oil shale reserves are in our backyard, how Enefit has worked proactively and positively with the community, why it is important to create sustainable jobs for people in the Uintah Basin, and how the project is consistent with specific economic development and land use plans, such as the BLM’s Vernal Resource Management Plan, the Federal Land Use Policy and Management Act, the State of Utah Governor’s energy policy, the Penstemon Conservation Agreement, and the Uintah County General Plan.

Enefit American Oil is uniquely qualified to contribute to Utah’s energy security and create long-term jobs that will help our community grow and keep families closer together. With a 30-year track record of producing liquid fuels in an environmentally responsible and economically viable manner, Enefit’s vision is consistent with our community goals and long-range planning efforts. Enefit staff have shown their commitment to environmental stewardship and desire to work together with our community to develop this project in the most responsible manner possible.