The Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah is one of the richest oil shale deposits in the country. It is estimated to hold more proven reserves than all of Saudi Arabia. Enefit, an Estonian company, was the latest in a long line of firms that hoped to tap it.
It’s also the latest to see such plans collapse — but perhaps not yet for good.
The company has lost access to the water it would need to unearth the petroleum and relinquished a federal lease that allowed research and exploration on the land. The two moves, made late last month, appear to signal the end of Enefit’s plans to mine shale oil in the Uinta Basin.
“If they’re getting cut off from this water, it’s kind of the nail in the coffin for this whole project,” said Michael Toll, an attorney for the Grand Canyon Trust, a conservation nonprofit that opposed the project. “Just ensuring that this water won’t be used for oil shale is a major win for the Colorado River Basin.”
Still, the company may develop oth... Read more