What is Oil Shale?
Oil shale is a rock found in eastern Utah, southwestern Wyoming, and western Colorado that contains organic material known as kerogen. Kerogen can be converted into crude oil by heating the substance to high temperatures. When refined, kerogen produces transportation and other fuels useful to America’s economy.
Geologists estimate that 800 billion barrels of oil equivalent are recoverable from Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado oil shale. This is more than the known oil reserves for the rest of the world combined.
Oil shale can be an environmentally friendly source of energy, as demonstrated by the decades of oil shale use to generate electricity in Estonia and Brazil.
Oil Shale Development in Utah
Several innovative companies operating in Utah have developed new technologies for recovering resources from oil shale and are ready to begin commercial production. These companies are currently operating on small tracts of land owned by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). With federal support and an improved fuels transportation infrastructure capable of moving liquids from the Uintah Basin to the refineries, oil shale can be a solid contributor to the energy needs of the nation for decades to come.
Utah Supports Responsible Development of Oil Shale
Utah has continually supported responsible development of oil shale.
- On December 10, 2012, the State protested the BLM’s Resource Management Plan amendments that proposed reducing the amount of federal land available for oil shale and oil sand leasing within Utah.
- On May 28, 2013, Utah has filed comments in opposition to proposed changes to the royalty and leasing provisions of the BLM’s oil shale leasing program.
Both of these adjustments in the existing program represent unnecessary restrictions on the growth of an industry, which has demonstrated commercial viability. The State is considering its options to further challenge these restrictions.