Company fuels doubts of oil shale foes

The Estonian company that purchased oil shale holdings on state land in Utah is still working on producing a liquid transportation fuel, a fact that opponents of oil shale development in the United States are pointing out.

Congressional testimony by James Bartis of The RAND Corp., an advocate of more research and development on federal oil shale lands in the West, made note of the lack of transportation fuel being produced from oil shale in Estonia.

“Oil shale is primarily used as a solid fuel for the generation of electric power,” Bartis said in congressional testimony June 2. “A small amount is converted to a liquid fuel, all of which is used in power generation or cogeneration plants. To our knowledge, oil shale in Estonia is not used to produce transportation fuels.”

That’s something U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., should be aware of as he conducts a hearing Aug. 24 in Grand Junction on current research and roadblocks to development of oil shale, said Peter Roessman of Western Resource Advocates.

“In spite of their 100-year history of developing oil shale, Estonia is still totally dependent upon foreign imports to power their automobile fleet,” Roessman said in a news release.

The state-owned company, Eesti Energia, which operates internationally as Enefit, hopes to complete a production complex “for producing higher quality liquid fuels from oil shale than the shale oil produced today, fuels which will meet all the legal requirements for use as motor fuel,” company spokeswoman Marina Bachmann said in an email statement.

Enefit owns Enefit American Oil, which this year purchased the holdings of The Oil Shale Company, which operates on state-owned lands in Utah.

The company is nearly a decade from production in Utah, Bachmann said.

“The current estimate is that the project development and permitting will take up to six years, followed by another three years for construction,” Bachmann said.

Enefit American Oil, headquartered in Vernal, Utah, is planning drilling and exploration work to define and characterize the oil shale resource, as well as begin more than a year of weather and air-quality monitoring, Bachmann said.


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