- 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 targets production of 50,000 bpd at Project build-out; that’s one-third of today’s statewide oil demand, according to state and federal statistics.
- 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 5,800 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 more than 27,000 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.
- Why does Enefit need a utility corridor across federal land?
While EAO’s energy project would be developed on private property the company owns, utilities to serve it must cross a small portion of federal land. Enefit has worked with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for more than four years on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is required before the BLM can approve a right-of-way. The BLM’s Final EIS is expected to be released in mid-2017, with a Record of Decision soon thereafter.
The utility corridor would allow connections to existing utilities located north of Enefit’s property. The corridor would house overhead electric transmission lines, buried water and natural gas supply pipelines, a buried product delivery pipeline, and improvements to an existing county road.
In its Draft EIS, released in April 2016, the BLM determined that granting Enefit a right-of-way would be less environmentally impactful than not granting it. That’s because, without the utility corridor, the BLM’s alternative assumes we would use less-desirable options to meet the project’s supply needs, such as building our own power plant and trucking out liquid fuels after processing.
Since the DEIS was released for review, the BLM has been analyzing and responding to issues raised by members of the public, special interest groups and government agencies. Enefit provided additional information and cooperated fully during this process, as we have since submitting our request in November 2012.
- 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?
With stable long-term operating costs, high energy efficiency, massive resource size and low geologic risk, oil shale production compares favorably to the production of conventional oil, making it an important resource to provide energy security for Utah. It’s also noteworthy that modern surface oil shale production creates 10 times more energy than is used to produce it.
- When will Enefit begin mining operations in Utah?
Enefit is in the permitting phase and is conducting various engineering and environmental studies. Construction timing of the mine and oil shale plant is highly dependent 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.Enefit.com