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Alabama, Mississippi to assess oil sands resources in their states

Alabama and Mississippi are forming a partnership to further study the oil sands resources in the two states, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant announced on Saturday while speaking to the Southern States Energy Board. The State of Alabama has the third largest oil sands resource in the United States, which may extend into the State of Mississippi.

The assessment is to be conducted as a joint effort between the Geological Survey of Alabama/State Oil and Gas Board, the Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Office of Geology and the Southern States Energy Board.

Known as the Hartselle Sandstone, the underground layer of resources that will be assessed based on a newly signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) stretches from north-central and northwest Alabama into northeastern Mississippi. Various studies have been conducted over the years regarding the Hartselle Sandstone. The most recent shows an estimated 7.5 billion barrels of oil are located in the reserves, 350 million barrels of which are located within 50 feet of the surface.

Areal extent of the Hartselle Sandstone in Alabama. Source: Geological Survey of Alabama, Bulletin 111, Mistal Minerals. Click to enlarge.

The assessment may include an inventory of existing core and well logs for data collection, identification of data gaps, acquisition and interpretation of additional data, detailed geologic reservoir modeling, a refined estimate of oil reserves and an inventory of existing and new infrastructure needed to support the industry. The analysis will also examine legal or regulatory guidelines regarding commercial deployment across the geographical boundary between the states.


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