Monday, February 11, 2013

Transportation ills could derail Uintah oil boom in Utah

Utah’s Uintah Basin could see huge growth in oil and natural gas production — akin to the current boom in North Dakota — except for one problem: the remote area lacks adequate transportation to handle it.

Unless that problem is solved, $30 billion worth of oil and gas may go undeveloped there over the next 30 years. It could cost Utah’s economy $10 billion, and prevent creation of nearly 27,000 jobs.

That’s the conclusion of a study funded by the Utah Department of Transportation and local governments in Uintah and Duchesne counties, which was presented Friday to the Legislature’s Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Committee.

Cory Pope, UDOT program development director said that also means Utah would be losing on average $180 million in taxes a year over that time, equivalent to about 4 percent of the state’s annual tax collection.

Pope stressed that the study tried to be conservative in its estimates. It did not count on, for example, much production from oil shale, which so far has not resulted in much commercial production in Utah despite large reserves. Salt Lake Tribune