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Annual Oil Sands Conference at the U

Feb. 24, 2009 – Government officials, industry representatives and energy researchers will convene at the University of Utah on Friday, Feb. 27 for an annual conference about the potential for extracting petroleum products from oil sands.

News media are invited to cover the Third Annual Western U.S. Oil Sands Conference, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Varsity Room on level 6 of the Rice-Eccles Stadium on campus.

“This year’s conference will focus on the wide-ranging issues facing oil sands development in Utah and elsewhere in the U.S., including a changing regulatory and political climate, fluctuating oil prices, resource availability, and environmental constraints,” according to the university’s Institute for Clean and Secure Energy, which organized the conference. “As decisions regarding oil sands utilization require a significant collaboration among technical, socioeconomic and environmental constituencies, this conference aims to bring these constituencies together to understand the issues and to seek solutions.”

This year’s keynote speaker, U.S. Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, will deliver a talk titled, “A Washington Perspective on Energy Policy” at 3:50 p.m.

Other speakers include Ron Daniels, energy policy coordinator for the State of Utah; Jim Kohler, consulting geologist with Utah Geosystems; Kevin Shurtleff of the Utah Science, Technology and Research initiative, USTAR; Soung Joon Kim, chief operating officer of KTIA Corp.; Glen Snarr, president and chief financial officer of Earth Energy Resources Inc.; Jack Hamilton and James Taylor of the University of Utah’s Technology Commercialization Office; Preston McEachern of the Oil Sands Environmental Management Division, Alberta Environment, Canada; Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute, Alberta, Canada; Arnold Reitze, a University of Utah law professor; Milind Deo, a chemical engineering professor at the university; and Steve Burian, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the university.

Oil sands, also known as tar sands, are a mix of extremely heavy crude oil, water and sand or clay. Unlike lighter crude oil, which can be extracted by drilling, the oil in oil sands must be extracted either via strip-mining and surface processing of the sands, or by “in-situ” techniques in which solvents, chemicals, heat or steam are used to decrease the viscosity of the oil so it can flow.

Environmentalists have objected to both the damage caused by strip-mining and the large water and energy requirements of “in-situ” methods. Yet the need to find new sources of oil has prompted great interest in oil sands in Utah – where most of the U.S. deposits are located – and elsewhere, including Alberta, Canada, where major extraction efforts are underway.

The public is invited to the conference, but a $35 registration fee is required. Pay online or on the day of the conference. For registration and for the complete conference schedule, please see:

Information for those wishing to attend also may be obtained by calling (801) 585-1233.