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Exploring Oil Sands

Feb. 21, 2008 – Geological, environmental, economic, legal and technical issues associated with extracting heavy crude oil from oil sands will be discussed Friday, Feb. 22 during a gathering at the University of Utah.

The 2008 Western U.S. Oil Sands Technology Transfer Meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Level 6 of the Tower at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The news media are invited to cover the meeting, which is free and open to the public.

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 either must be strip-mined or removed 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 need for large amounts of water and energy for other extraction 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.

Here are the speakers for the meeting:

  • 8:30 a.m., welcome and introduction by Philip J. Smith, professor of chemical engineering, director of the Institute for Clean and Secure Energy, University of Utah.
  • 8:45 a.m., resource characterization, Wally Gwynn, Utah Geological Survey.
  • 9:15 a.m., local issues for Utah oil sands, Bill Johnson, director of energy development, Uintah Economic Development Special Service District.
  • 9:45 a.m., regulatory aspects, John Baza, director, Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining.
  • 10:45 a.m., Temple Mountain Energy update on Asphalt Ridge, Utah, Larry Clynch, CEO, Temple Mountain Energy.
  • 11:15 a.m., the Earth Energy Resources process at PR Spring, Utah, Glen Snarr, president and chief financial officer, Earth Energy Resources.
  • 11:45 a.m., marketing Utah’s non-conventional hydrocarbon resources, Vincent Memmott, president and CEO, Rocky Mountain Synfuels.
  • 1:15 p.m., environmental concerns for oil sands development in Utah, Stephen Bloch, staff attorney, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
  • 1:45 p.m., air quality, Rick Sprott, executive director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
  • 2:15 p.m., oil sands and the draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Kirsten Uchitel, research associate, Institute for Clean and Secure Energy, University of Utah.
  • 3:15 p.m., Utah oil sands: social and economic factors, Alan Isaacson, research analyst, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Utah.
  • 3:45 p.m., processing technologies, Milind Deo, professor of chemical engineering, University of Utah.
  • 4:15 p.m., water availability, Steven Burian, assistant professor, civil and environmental engineering, University of Utah.
  • 4:45 p.m., produced water technology, Zhixiong Cha, doctoral student at the University of Utah.

The meeting is sponsored by the University of Utah’s Institute for Clean and Secure Energy.