A decision on Living Rivers appeal of Red Leaf Resources’ oil shale permit has been delayed until more data analysis is completed, putting the appeal into limbo until later in the year. As first reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, Red Leaf received a permit from the state of Utah to implement their Eco-Shale technology on a commercial basis in April despite Living Rivers’ claims that insufficient data was available for groundwater contamination. Living Rivers recommended that the state wait until the Division of Water Quality released their findings on potential contamination. Living Rivers immediately appealed the permit and was supposed to present their case to the Utah Division of Oil. Gas and Mining on Wednesday, June 27.
The division decided to delay the meeting until they complete further analysis of the Eco-Shale process on the environment. If the permit is approved, Red Leaf believes their technology is capable of producing 9,500 barrels of oil daily on their 1,500 acre permit in eastern Utah. The Ec0-Shale process, according to the company’s website, is a hybrid between older mine and extraction methods and more current in-situ processes. The company plans to mine the shale rock, place it in clay capsules and then heat the capsules with closed-system pipes containing heated natural gas. Red Leaf claims that their process uses very little water compared to other conventional methods but some critics believe the clay capsules might fail and leak hydrocarbons into the ground.
Living Rivers considers the delay a temporary victory. “We would consider this a win,” Rob Dubuc, a Western Resource Advocates attorney representing Living Rivers, said Tuesday. “This is what we’ve been asking the division to do for some time.” Living Rivers had asked that the original permit not be granted before this analysis was made, citing that the technology may not be feasible and could produce unknown contamination to ground water. “We are concerned that hydrocarbons can leak through the earth ovens and pollute the groundwater there,” said John Weisheit, Living Rivers conservation director.
It is unknown when the analysis will be completed and the meetings can continue, although it should be before year’s end. To read more about Red Leaf’s Eco-Shale technology, visit their website. More on Living Rivers can be found at their website, as well.