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.



Enefit Renewables prepares for European IPO

27 Aug 2017

Enefit American Oil parent company, Estonian state-owned Eesti Energia, plans to list up to 49 percent of its Enefit Renewables unit early next year in an initial public offering (IPO) that could raise up to 500 million euros ($557.25 million).


The listing was agreed in the Estonian government’s coalition agreement in last November.


The IPO is planned for the first half of next year, with the timing to be detailed later this year. The Bulk of the IPO proceeds would go towards the development of a new wind park in Tootsi, southwest Estonia.



Construction starts on large Enefit-affiliated oil shale project in Jordan

27 Aug 2017

Construction recently began on the Kingdom of Jordan’s first oil shale-fired power station and open cast oil shale mine. Enefit affiliate Attarat Power Company (APCO) secured $2.1 billion in funding for the project, notable for being the largest-ever private financing deal in the world’s oil shale industry. Operation of the new power plant is set to begin in mid-2020.


Enefit has shepherded this project since receiving a concession agreement from the government of Jordan – including all exploration, engineering and related tasks, such as bringing on strategic and financial partners at the right stages. The project clearly demonstrates Enefit’s ability to successfully develop a greenfield project outside of the company’s home country of Estonia.


In addition to developing the power plant, Enefit is also seeking to produce liquid fuels from Jordanian oil shale, similar to the company’s Utah Project. To facilitate this, the company has signed a 40-year exploration and production agreement with the Jordanian government.




Utah Mining Association, Enefit meet with new EPA Administrator

27 Aug 2017

Scott Pruitt, recently confirmed as President Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited Utah in mid-July to seek input on a variety of issues, including a 2015 water regulation that has led to uncertainty for mining companies and other industries. EAO Head of Development and Environment, Ryan Clerico and Utah Mining Association (UMA) President Mark Compton had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with Administrator Pruitt on the Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule. Rikki also serves on UMA’s board of directors.


The WOTUS rule, enacted during the Obama Administration, effectively extends federal oversight to virtually all bodies of water – including seasonally dry creek beds, drainage ditches and puddles.


Farmers, miners and other interests have sought a clearer definition of waters affected by the controversial rule since it was first proposed. Administrator Pruitt, who criticized the rule during his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general, said he favors clarifying, and, perhaps, limiting the regulation.


The roundtable discussion also touched on a number of other issues important to UMA, EAO and the mining industry in general, including federal permitting delays, the dangerous reliance on foreign sources of minerals for the nation’s manufacturing base, energy needs and national defense, and proposed rules dealing with cleanup of closed mines.


BLM Extends Enefit’s Oil Shale RD&D Lease

10 Jul 2017

Enefit American Oil (EAO) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has granted a five-year extension of the company’s oil shale Research Development & Demonstration (RD&D) lease on 160 acres of federal land in eastern Utah’s Uintah Basin.

RD&D leases were created to encourage private companies to research and develop on ways to produce liquid fuels from oil shale and then commercialize the resulting technology. Enefit acquired an existing RD&D lease as part of its purchase of private property, options and leases from another oil shale company in 2011.

“EAO has met the requirements of the provision of its RD&D Lease authorizing a five-year extension of the lease terms, and granting the extension is in the public interest and consistent with energy policy of the United States,” BLM Utah State Director Edwin L. Roberson writes in the Record of Decision signed June 27, 2017.

“We’re delighted that the BLM recognizes our progress on the Utah Project,” said EAO CEO Rikki Hrenko-Browning. “By extending this lease through mid-2022, the BLM is demonstrating its long-term commitment to working with the energy industry to unlock the tremendous potential of oil shale as an energy source.”

Over the past six years, Enefit has invested significant resources to move its Utah Project forward, including community outreach and education; extensive testing of the oil shale resource at the company’s facilities in Europe; environmental baseline studies; requesting permission for utilities to cross federal land, including participating in the required Environmental Impact Statement process; and facilitating the successful assessment of the company’s oil shale resources, resulting in the world’s first oil shale-to-shale oil Reserve designation, which shows that the Project is technically and financially feasible.

EAO is the U.S. subsidiary of Estonia-based Enefit, the world leader in producing power and liquid fuels from oil shale using its proprietary technology.


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Utah Ranked 11th in the World for Mining Investment

29 Mar 2017

Utah just missed the top 10 in the list of the world’s friendliest investment regions for mining in the annual Survey of Mining Companies 2016 by the Fraser Institute, coming in at number eleven (down from ninth last year).


Nevada and Arizona were the only U.S. states to make the top 10, ranking fourth and seventh, respectively.


The Fraser Institute’s survey canvassed the opinions of mining executives and managers worldwide on the policies and the mineral resources of 104 global jurisdictions.