Shale lease nominations advanced for further review

Nominations by all three companies that applied for a second round of federal oil shale research and development leases have cleared an initial review by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The nominations by ExxonMobil Exploration Co. and Natural Soda Holdings, Inc. for lands in Colorado and AuraSource, Inc., for a parcel in Utah now will undergo National Environmental Policy Act reviews by the BLM Colorado and Utah offices. That analysis could take anywhere from four to 18 months, the BLM said in a news release today.

The BLM said that a review team including the governors of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming; the Department of Energy; and the Colorado School of Mines recommended that the nominations be advanced.

BLM Director Bob Abbey said in the release, “To determine whether oil shale will be a viable energy source on a commercial scale, we need to support critical research to answer fundamental questions about the feasibility of the technologies, their impacts on the environment and local communities, and their use of water. This second round of leases will help us answer those critical questions so that we can chart a safe, orderly, and responsible path for our energy future.”

Companies were allowed to propose federal parcels not exceeding 160 acres for research, development and demonstration projects under 10-year leases. Applicants could identify as many as 480 more acres for a potential commercial lease.



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