What is oil shale?
Oil shale is a sedimentary rock that contains an organic material called kerogen. Kerogen can be heated, separated from the rock, processed and turned into liquid shale oil. The liquid shale oil can be treated and refined into diesel and jet fuels, as well as into gasoline. Mining and processing oil shale does not involve “fracking,” the process used to fracture shale to reach liquid crude oil and natural gas trapped in rock formations.
Why do we need oil shale?
Today, 60 percent of Utah’s liquid fuels are imported. Mining and processing oil shale in Utah can help the state achieve energy independence. Enefit’s oil shale project will produce 50,000 barrels of oil per day by the mid-2020s; that’s one-third of today’s statewide oil demand.
Where is oil shale located?
It is estimated that 72 percent of the world’s oil shale reserves are found in the Green River Formation in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Oil shale is also found in other places around the world, and there are more than 600 known deposits in more than 30 countries on all continents. After the USA, the largest oil shale resources are in Brazil, Jordan, Russia and Mexico.
Who is Enefit?
Enefit is the world’s largest oil shale energy company and has a 30-year track record of producing liquid fuels from mined oil shale in an environmentally safe, smart and economically viable manner. Enefit’s parent company, located in Estonia, employs more than 7,400 people and provides 91 percent of Estonia’s electricity. Enefit is currently expanding its operations to the country of Jordan and to Utah. Enefit currently produces approximately 1.2 million barrels of oil from oil shale each year.
Where is Enefit’s project located in Utah?
Enefit’s Utah project is located within one of the richest areas of the region’s oil shale formation. Enefit owns or leases 30,274 acres located approximately 45 minutes south of Vernal, Utah, which contains an estimated 2.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale. Enefit will provide a proven, efficient and environmentally sound means to help Utah achieve energy independence.
Will Enefit help create local jobs?
Enefit will create 2,000 stable, long-term jobs that will help the community grow and keep families close together. As today’s young people begin to enter the job market, quality jobs like the ones Enefit creates will be in high demand. Hundreds of construction jobs will also be created and it is estimated that for every direct job Enefit creates, two indirect jobs will be created in the supply and service sector.
How will Enefit contribute to Utah’s energy security?
Today, 60 percent of Utah’s liquid fuels are imported. Enefit will help Utah achieve energy dependence by meeting one-third of today’s liquid fuel demand.
What is the process for mining and producing fuels from oil shale?
Enefit technology is based on nearly 100 years of oil shale experience in Estonia in the areas of mining, oil processing and power production. The process for mining and producing fuels from oil shale is based on common mining and oil industry practices and technologies similar to those operating in Utah today Enefit is uniquely experienced in employing the best available technologies for clean, safe and reliable production.
There is a seven step process to mining and producing fuel from oil shale:
- Mine – Oil shale is mined using common underground and surface techniques;
- Heat – A retort process heats the oil shale without oxygen to release gas and oil vapors in a closed system;
- Recycle steam – Steam created by excess heat powers a turbine to create electricity for the plant;
- Separate – A condensation tower separates the liquid fuels;
- Upgrade – An upgrader purifies the fuels into high quality products;
- Ship – High quality products are shipped to market.
- Return – Once the oil has been removed, spent shale is returned where it was mined, with the top soil replaced, allowing for restoration of the topography;
Can oil shale be safely mined?
Enefit is uniquely experienced in employing the best available technologies for clean, safe and reliable production. Oil shale is a rock that can be mined and converted to shale oil. Shale oil is a petroleum product that is used in the same way as crude oil. Mining and processing oil shale does not involve hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and is unrelated to oil or tar sands.
How will mining and producing fuels from oil shale affect the environment?
Enefit is committed to environmental stewardship. Based on the amount of energy produced, Enefit’s project will use less water than other energy sources, such as ethanol or coal-based power. The United States Department of Energy estimates that a 50,000 barrel-per-day oil shale plant uses about 4,000 acre-feet of water per year. That is about the same amount of water needed to grow 2,000 acres of alfalfa. With just 4,000 acre-feet of water per year, Enefit can meet one-third of Utah’s current annual liquid fuel demand. In addition to employing the best available air emission controls and monitoring to meet air quality regulations, Enefit will return spent shale back to where it was mined, minimizing land disturbance and allowing for reclamation to the natural topography.
How efficient is mining and producing fuels from oil shale?
Oil shale production is profitable under market conditions, does not require subsidies and will create energy security for Utah. Modern surface oil shale production is comparable to conventional petroleum production and creates 10 times more energy than is was used to produce it. Also, oil shale production can tolerate a significant drop in oil prices with operating costs well below the 40-year inflation-adjusted price of oil.
When will Enefit begin mining operations in Utah?
Enefit is in the permitting phase and is conducting various engineering and environmental studies. Construction is targeted to take place on the mine and oil shale plant in the early to mid-2020s, although that could change depending on permitting.
How can I learn more about Enefit?
Enefit is committed to involving the community and making this the safest, smartest and most economically viable process possible. For more information about Enefit, visit the company Web site at www.EnefitUtah.com.