Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Energy startup defends oil-sands project in Utah

An energy startup from Canada on Tuesday defended its plan to launch the first significant U.S. oil sands project in eastern Utah, after opponents argued it would dig up fragile topsoil and pollute groundwater. The criticism against the Earth Energy Resources Inc. project came during an informal hearing before the head of the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining, who is considering whether to uphold his staff's approval of the company's operating permit. The Calgary, Alberta-based company insisted it won't pollute anything and will leave Utah's oil sands as clean as beach sand after processing with a citrus-based solvent.

"It will be a good project for Utah," company vice president Barclay Cuthbert testified. "We'll be providing energy that will be used in the state." The private company with 411 shareholders says it will turn out 2,000 barrels of oil a day after raising $35 million from private equity groups for the plant. Opponents said an oil-sands operation that produces so little petroleum isn't worth doing, given the potential damage to public lands. State officials responded that their job was simply to ensure Earth Energy follows environmental rules. Forbes