Mar 28, 2010 11:42 AM by Associated Press
Utah regulators say an energy company has approvals to launch the first major U.S. oil sands project.
First, Earth Energy Resources Inc. is trying to raise $35 million from investors to build a plant that would turn out 2,000 barrels of oil a day in eastern Utah.
The Calgary, Alberta-based energy company has a state lease to work a 62-acre pit in Uintah County. It plans to use a proprietary solvent system to strip the oil from the sand. It says the process leaves the tar sands cleaner than before for backfilling into the quarry.
University of Utah chemical engineering professor Philip Smith says wringing oil from tar sands or oil shale is technically possible, but nobody has proven it economical on a large scale yet.