|Western oil shale resources and approximate lease sites.|
It’s not quite a land-rush, but the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has received 19 applications for parcels of public land to be leased in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for research development and demonstration projects in oil shale production.
Among the companies that have applied are Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, EGL Resources Inc., Independent Energy Partners, Kennecott Exploration Co., Natural Soda Inc. and Phoenix Wyoming Inc.
An oil shale boom in the late 1970s went bust in 1982, when Exxon shut down its western Colorado project because of costs. Shell, for one, has continued to work with oil shale technology, developing its in situ process. (Earlier post.)
BLM announced the leasing program in June, and companies had 90 days to respond. Each 10-year lease will be for a 160-acre parcel.
Ten nominations were received for parcels in Colorado. Parcels in Utah are included in eight applications, with one application received for land in Wyoming.
All Colorado applications are for land outside Meeker in Rio Blanco County:
Chevron Shale Oil
Independent Energy Partners
Shell Frontier Oil and Gas (3 applications)
All applications in Utah are for land near the White River Mine, a former oil shale site south of Vernal in Uintah County:
Brent C. Freyer
Great Western Energy
Mountain West Energy
Oil Shale Exploration
Western Energy Partners
The sole Wyoming application is from Anadarko Petroleum for a site southeast of Rock Springs in the Washakie Basin.
An interdisciplinary team will consider the potential of each nomination to advance oil shale technology; the team will also consider economic viability and environmental effects and then make recommendations for awarding leases. Depending on the quality of the proposals, the BLM may award one or more leases in each of the three States.
Representatives from the three States (Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming), and the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense have been invited to participate on the team, as have BLM staff members from the affected States. The team will begin reviewing nominations in late October. In addition to furthering development of oil shale resources, RD&D leasing will assist the BLM in developing appropriate regulations for commercial oil shale leasing, which the Energy Act calls for beginning in 2007.
The United States holds significant oil shale resources underlying a total area of 16,000 square miles. This represents the largest known concentration of oil shale in the world and holds the equivalent of 2.6 trillion barrels of oil. More than 70 percent of American oil shale—the largest concentration of oil shale in the world—is on Federal land, primarily in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The Energy Policy Act directs that public lands in these three States be made available for RD&D leasing within six months of the measure becoming law.