Tuesday, May 29, 2012

U.S. Oil Sands raises money to start mine in Utah

As mentioned very briefly earlier, U.S. Oil Sands is a tiny Calgary company that plans to develop an oil sands mine in Utah. They have recently raised $11 million described by Bloomberg as a stock offering and the company itself as a private placement. I suppose the two aren't mutually exclusive. 

This money will supposedly be enough to allow them to start producing in 2013, getting up to a rate of 2,000 barrels per day in the same year with potential to produce "much" more. As far as I know, this would be the first oil sands operation (mine or in-situ) operating in the US of A. Read on for further details.

The company believes it can operate the mine without tailing ponds, thanks apparently to its "unique biosolvent" the sand will come out of the extraction plant as clean as beach sand. Environmentalists disagree, but they would wouldn't they?

Recoverable oil in place is estimated to be 4 million barrels. The company believes that producing 700,000 barrels a year will net them $21 million. This assumes $30 a barrel for extraction and transport and (apparently) $60 a barrel realized cost.

Environmentalists say the solvent will be left behind along with left over bitumen and will wash into the ground (there is only ground water for part of the year). The company says only 1% of the solvent will be left and 4% of the bitumen. As a bonus, the sand will smell "lemony fresh" after being processed. So they're pretty much improving the environment, right?

Not sure whose side I'm on for this one. On the one hand, the environmentalists seem a little shrill and hyperbolic, in the non-mathematical sense of the word. On the other hand, U.S. Oil Sands are giving me a weird yahoo vibe that I'm not entirely sure I trust. I think I would be much more at ease with them if they would spell their name consistently, rather than US Oil Sands in some places and U.S. Oil Sands in others.

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