Utah Petroleum Association Hires New President

21 Sep 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018


Utah Petroleum Association Hires New President


SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Petroleum Association (UPA) today announced it has hired Rikki Hrenko-Browning, current CEO of Enefit American Oil, to serve as president effective January 2, 2019.

Hrenko-Browning today has overall responsibility for Enefit American Oil’s greenfield oil shale development project in eastern Utah’s Uinta Basin, including management of project planning, engineering, permitting, lobbying and public relations.

UPA Chairman Tyler Kruzich of Chevron said, “The UPA Executive Committee is pleased that Ms. Hrenko-Browning has accepted its offer to lead the association. Our team is committed to modernizing and improving UPA to add value for its members and help a growing Utah responsibly meet its energy needs while driving economic opportunity statewide.”

Hrenko-Browning said, “After many great years with EAO and its parent company in Estonia, I’m thrilled to begin a new chapter in my career as President of UPA. I’m looking forward to representing the oil and gas industry and raising awareness about the vital and dynamic role it plays in Utah’s and the Mountain West’s economy and quality of life.”

Prior to her current role, Hrenko-Browning was the International Project Director and an environmental policy expert for Enefit (Eesti Energia) in Estonia.

In 2014, Hrenko-Browning was selected as one of “30 Women to Watch” by Utah Business Magazine. She has served as an officer, on the executive committee and as a board member for the Utah Mining Association. She is a previous board member of the National Oil Shale Association.

An Ohio native, Hrenko-Browning graduated with distinction from Carnegie Mellon University with a master’s degree in public policy and management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in botany and environmental science.

She and her family now happily call Utah home and “enjoy all things outdoors in the beautiful mountains and, of course, the best snow on earth.”


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Enefit American Oil welcomes Ryan Clerico as new CEO

21 Sep 2018

Enefit American Oil CEO Rikki Hrenko-Browning will join the Utah Petroleum Association as the organization’s new President on Jan. 2, 2019. Until then, Hrenko-Browning will continue in her position at EAO, after which Ryan Clerico, EAO’s Head of Development and Environment, will become CEO. Clerico has been with EAO since August 2012 and has previously served as acting CEO.


“Rikki has been an important part to our efforts to develop the Utah Project and bring our proven oil shale production technology to new markets, we wish her best in her new role,” said Margus Vals, President of EAO’s Board. “Ryan has contributed a lot to EAO´s efforts during the last years and will be in an excellent position to take on the development.”


“I am looking forward to continuing the progress in making a U.S. commercial oil shale industry a reality,” said Clerico. Over the course of a more than 20-year career, Clerico has worked in a broad range of such industry segments as energy and infrastructure; mining; oil and gas; commercial and residential real estate; and transportation. Clerico has demonstrated success gaining major approvals and entitlements at the federal, state, local and international government levels for complex and controversial projects, while ensuring continued stakeholder support, as well as taking projects through full construction and into operation. Clerico is a Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) with experience in all aspects of the environment, health and safety, and social license to operate, including numerous technical publications.


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Energy industry wary of new Uintah Basin ozone regulations

10 Jul 2018

Air quality has been a hot topic in Utah for years, although most attention to date has been paid to the Wasatch Front. As noted in EAO’s December 2017 newsletter, though, the Uintah Basin has a unique situation regarding elevated ozone levels, prompting regulatory agencies to shift some of their attention eastward.


EAO has been actively tracking and engaging in this critical issue. In January, we submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a draft rule to designate parts of the Basin as nonattainment of the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard, or NAAQS. We believe our comments are practical for both protecting human health and the environment in the Uintah Basin, while also allowing for responsible economic development to continue in the region.

A dozen or so stations like this one monitor ozone and other air emissions in eastern Utah's Uintah Basin.

A dozen or so stations like this one monitor ozone and other air emissions in eastern Utah’s Uintah Basin.


EAO’s comments focused on data from our very own Rabbit Mountain air quality and meteorological monitoring station, operated in conjunction with Utah State University over the past several winters. Other notable public and industry stakeholders in the Basin submitting public comments included the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, Western Energy Alliance and the J.R. Simplot Company. The Utah Division of Air Quality and Ute Tribe also coordinated with EPA’s Region VIII office in Denver during the comment period.


After EPA analyzed the information provided in public comments and by the state and Tribe, the agency issued their final rule April 30, 2018. As expected, the EPA designated parts of the Basin as nonattainment of the 2015 ozone NAAQS…but they did listen to stakeholders and the public in the final rule. By assigning a Marginal designation category and limiting the area to only those parts of the Basin below an elevation of 6,250 feet, the EPA, the State of Utah and the Ute Tribe will have three years to work together to implement necessary measures to bring the Basin into compliance with the 2015 ozone NAAQS by 2021. That could include new requirements for control technology equipment, offsets for new emissions sources, adaptive management measures (such as seasonal- or weather-related operating restrictions), or other strategies to reduce ozone levels to meet the 2015 standard. In short, this is an important concern for all economic activity in the Basin, both now and in the future.


The EPA’s final rule can be found here.


BLM releases final analysis for utility corridor project in northeastern Utah

17 May 2018

News Release

Vernal Field Office, Utah

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Heather O’Hanlon May 17, 2018 (801) 367-2897

BLM releases final analysis for utility corridor project in northeastern Utah

VERNAL, Utah—The Bureau of Land Management Vernal Field Office is releasing a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing potential impacts of the proposed Enefit American Oil Utility Corridor Project, located approximately 40 miles south of Vernal, Utah.


The proposed Enefit American Oil Utility Corridor Project is consistent with the Administration’s goal of American energy independence and supports the creation of jobs and infrastructure development that foster economic growth in rural communities. If approved, the construction of the pipelines, power lines, and road could contribute 85 to 110 jobs over several years.


Under the proposal, Enefit American Oil would construct 19 miles of water supply pipeline, eight miles of natural gas supply pipeline, 10 miles of oil product line, 29 miles of single or dual overhead 138-kilovolt H-frame power lines, and upgrade an estimated five miles of Dragon Road on public lands in the Vernal Field Office.


The BLM prepared the final EIS to analyze the potential impacts of Enefit’s five right-of-way applications. The BLM used comments and feedback received during the 60-day comment period in spring 2016 to disclose cumulative impacts. This final EIS does not contain any decisions.


The BLM’s decision regarding the project will be published in a Record of Decision after the final wait period closes. The 45-day wait period for the publication of the Notice of Availability of the final EIS in the Federal Register runs from May 18 through July 2. Documents and maps are available for public review online at:


For additional project information, please contact Stephanie Howard at (435)781-4469. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS)
at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or question with the above individual. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.


The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Diverse activities authorized on these lands generated $75 billion in sales of goods and services throughout the American economy in fiscal year 2016—more than any other agency in the Department of the Interior. These activities supported more than 372,000 jobs.


Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr @BLMUtah

Long-awaited utility corridor EIS nears finish line; needs final push from supporters

17 May 2018

For the past five years we’ve been keeping you informed about the environmental review process to allow Enefit to extend utilities for our Utah Project across a sliver of federal land. We are pleased to say that the Final Environmental Impact Statement has been approved by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office and will be published in the Federal Register Friday, May 18.


Publication of the FEIS triggers a 45-day public comment period, ending on July 2. Friends and allies of the Project have graciously provided supportive comments throughout the process to the Bureau of Land Management, the agency overseeing the environmental review. We respectfully request that individuals and groups once again send in comments to the BLM at If you’d like to review the FEIS or other project information, visit the BLM’s website at


Guidance on submitting comments, along with key points to include, was provided in our April 2016 newsletter (find it here). That information is still current and can be used to develop comments, which we strongly encourage you to do.


After this final comment period closes – and assuming there are no unforeseen, last-minute issues raised in the public comments – the Record of Decision will be signed and a right-of-way grant will be issued to Enefit. Environmental interest groups and others then have 30 days to appeal the decision, which we expect to occur. To date, however, all concerns raised by third parties throughout the EIS process have been resolved to the BLM’s satisfaction, so we’re optimistic that any appeals will not be successful.


Thanks again for your consistent support during this long and arduous process!


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Martian rock-collection tests take place near Enefit’s property

5 Jan 2018

Similarities to possible environments on Mars brought NASA researchers to the southern Uintah Basin in late October to conduct experiments for collecting geologic samples during a planned mission to the red planet in 2020.


A site near Enefit’s property near Evacuation Creek was selected because of sedimentary rock formations left by ancient lakes that contain fossils of ancient microorganisms. Sites on Mars may share similarities to this remote part of the Utah landscape, making it perfect for conducting tests about how a remotely controlled landing vehicle, or rover, will look for and collect Martian rock samples.


Led by principal investigator R. Aileen Yingst of the Planetary Science Institute, the work is part of the GeoHeuristic Operational Strategies Tests – GHOST – which has conducted similar tests at other sites on Earth and the Moon. Partnering with Michael Vanden Berg and Tom Chidsey from the Utah Geological Survey, the science team tested rover operations protocols to determine best practices for a planned 2020 mission to Mars to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.


The team tested two scenarios. In the first scenario, the rover continually moves forward to seek samples and doesn’t backtrack – the method typically used on Mars by the two NASA Mars Exploration Rovers and the Mars Science Laboratory. The second method, called a “walkabout-first” scenario, sends the rover over the same ground at least twice, first to gain context of the overall area and then again to do more in-depth science in sub-locations that appear promising.


To conduct their tests, the rover science teams arrived at the field location without knowledge of the specific site geology. Data about the environment were collected by graduate students simulating the work of a rover. This information was provided to the science teams, who were charged with assessing the details about the geological contents of the environment. The team’s hypotheses were then compared with data collected from the site using common Earth-based geologic field methods.


Lessons learned during these exercises help improve efficiency and scientific results for the eventual exploration of Mars and other distant worlds.



World’s largest oil shale-fired power plant under construction

5 Jan 2018

Elsewhere in the world, construction continues on the largest energy project in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Jordan, an oil shale-fired power plant affiliated with and partly owned by Enefit.


Like Enefit’s home country of Estonia, Jordan’s only significant domestic energy resource is oil shale, and Jordan hopes to eventually replicate Estonia’s achievement of energy independence with the $2 billion power station scheduled for completion by mid-2020.


A liquid fuels plant, similar to Enefit’s proposed Utah Project, is also in preliminary stages of development.


Work underway at the power plant includes construction of turbine and boiler foundations, water and sewer treatment infrastructure, worker housing and other infrastructure and support facilities. Mine opening, including overburden removal and mine infrastructure construction has also started.


The project is being developed by Enefit affiliate Attarat Power Company (APCO), in partnership with Chinese and Malaysian energy, engineering and construction companies.




Expanded ozone boundary could hurt Uintah Basin economy

5 Jan 2018

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is soon expected to announce an expansion of ozone non-attainment areas in the Uintah Basin, which could significantly hamper energy production and other economic development in some areas of the Basin where ozone is not an issue, with little to no benefit to the ozone issue in those areas.


A detailed technical look at ozone conditions by the Utah Division of Air Quality (UDAQ) raises questions about the need for EPA’s planned action to extend the nonattainment boundary. The state’s scientific analysis found a strong tie between elevation and increased ozone conditions, specifically at the 6,000-foot elevation contour. However, the state’s final recommendation to EPA was that any township having at least 10 percent of its area below 6,000 feet be included in the nonattainment area in its entirety.


Using such a large jurisdictional boundary – a township equals 36 square miles (92 square kilometers) or 23,040 acres (9,324 hectares) – rather than the elevation contour, has a real and tangible effect on the Uintah Basin’s development, including Enefit’s Utah Project, with no added benefits in ozone reduction in the areas where the real issue exists.


While Enefit fully supports combatting ground-level ozone to improve conditions for public health and the environment, we believe this expansion of the ozone nonattainment area is unnecessary and counterproductive to the state’s goals of creating jobs and economic development in rural Utah.


We encourage everyone with an interest in air quality and development in the Basin to keep involved in this process and submit comments when EPA releases its draft rule.



Federal lands executive wants to streamline regulations

5 Jan 2018

Speaking of the EIS’s final route through our nation’s capital, we recently had the opportunity to meet the Department of Interior’s acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management and discuss the EIS and, more broadly, energy development on BLM land.


Kate MacGregor was recently hosted by the Grand Junction Petroleum and Mining Club to give a talk on the Department of Interior’s role in expanding energy development. She emphasized that the Trump Administration is very serious about streamlining permitting and reducing regulatory burdens.


That message was further stressed later in her visit when she met with a handful of regional industry leaders, including Enefit, where we had the opportunity to discuss the long journey of our EIS with her one-on-one. We want to thank Kate for her commitment towards much needed improvements in the federal bureaucracy!



Enefit’s Utah Project moves ahead; EIS milestone expected soon

5 Jan 2018

As a “long-lead” development, progress on Enefit’s Utah Project has come slowly and deliberately, but always in a forward direction.


Given that, we’re pleased to hear that a major milestone is in sight: The Final Environmental Impact Statement on our proposed utility corridor across a sliver of federal land is expected to be published by the end of the year. This is the final step in what has been a ponderous five-year process (yes, five years!).

Utilities Corridor


The Utah BLM office sent the document to Washington, D.C., in October, and it’s in the process of being shuttled between more than 30 different agencies and offices on its way to approval and publication. While we’ve gotten our hopes up before, we’re assured the end is really in sight this time!


When finally approved, EAO will have the ability to eventually extend utilities needed for the Project from our private land across BLM property to connect into the existing regional utility network. The utility corridor is designed to include water and natural gas supply lines, 138-kilovolt electricity lines, road improvements, and an oil product pipeline.