Monday, March 29, 2010

Company seeks first U.S. oil sands project, in Utah

An energy company with government approvals to launch the first significant U.S. oil sands project is trying to raise money to build a plant in eastern Utah that would turn out 2,000 barrels of oil a day. Earth Energy Resources Inc. has a state lease to work a 62-acre pit in Uintah County, where it has demonstrated technology that can extract oil out of sands using a proprietary solvent it calls environmentally friendly.

Wringing oil from hard rock or oil sands is technically possible, but nobody has proven it economical on a large scale yet, University of Utah chemical engineering professor Philip Smith said. Smith said Utah's oil sands contain as much energy as those of Canada's massive reserves, but Utah's contain more nitrogen that can give off smog-forming nitrous oxides when processed. Earth Energy says refining removes the nitrogen before it becomes a problem. Salt Lake Tribune