Company eyes 700 million-barrel potential in oil shale tract

A subsidiary of a Boston-based company plans to test oil shale development technology on private land in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin.

General Synfuels International said in a recent news release it has obtained access to about 500 acres with the near-term potential to recover about 700 million barrels of oil or oil equivalents.

GSI said it plans to pursue what it considers to be a breakthrough technology that has low environmental impacts and is “energy-self-sustainable.” The technology is a gasification process that would be applied to oil shale still underground.

GSI officials could not be reached for comment Friday for specifics on the acreage location or the company’s gasification process.

GSI also said it has reached an exploration agreement with a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in Wyoming. The agreement covers about 160 acres on a Union Pacific Railroad section near Rock Springs.

Together, the two agreements will let the company test and develop its technology to recover fuels from oil shale, oil sands and heavy oil.

GSI is evaluating another 2,500 acres of oil shale mineral rights near the 500-acre Colorado parcel.

GSI is owned by Earth Search Sciences Inc., a company whose technology allows for mapping and identifying of surface minerals and other substances from high altitudes.

GSI said it believes results of its gasification tests should be known within 24 months.

“The property is optimal for an R&D project because of its proximity to existing infrastructure, transportation and access to a highly qualified work force,”  Luis Lugo, chief executive officer of Earth Search Sciences, said in the news release.

Sixteen environmental groups pointed to the GSI deal as an argument against the Bureau of Land Management proceeding with a second round of oil shale research, development and demonstration leases on federal lands. The companies already control extensive private oil shale lands, the groups said in a recent news release.

The American Petroleum Institute said the federal RD&D program is “an important step in developing U.S. oil shale resources” and should be expanded.


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