• Mississippi, Alabama governors call for assessment of oil sands resources

    MOBILE, Ala. – Mississippi and Alabama are joining to form a partnership to further study the oil sands resources in the two states, Gov. Phil Bryant and Gov. Robert Bentley announced today while speaking to the Southern States Energy Board.

    Gov. Bryant and Gov. Bentley signed a memorandum of understanding, commissioning the assessment of oil sands, which is a sandy mixture found below the surface containing bitumen. After extracting the sand, the bitumen is transformed into refinery ready crude oil.

    “As I have said before, for our nation to become more energy independent, we must recognize the importance of a forward-thinking approach to energy and continue to develop a comprehensive energy policy that works,” Gov. Bryant said.

    “By taking this action, we’re exploring the potential for safe and reliable development of energy right here at home,” Gov. Bentley said.

    The effort is to be conducted as a joint effort between the Geological Survey of Alabama/State Oil and Gas Board, the Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Office of Geology and the Southern States Energy Board.

    Known as the Hartselle Sandstone, this underground layer of resources stretches from north-central and northwest Alabama into northeastern Mississippi. Various studies have been done over the years regarding the Hartselle Sandstone. The most recent shows an estimated 7.5 billion barrels of oil are located in the reserves.

    “We need new information on the development of the area,” Gov. Bryant said. “By signing this MOU today, Mississippi looks forward to working with Governor Bentley and his team of experts to study these resources which will hopefully lead to commercial development. It is going to take full cooperation from industry, state officials, and technical experts to get this formation into production, and I am here today to offer assistance from Mississippi.”

    “We all see the future promise of alternative sources of energy. However, these sources will not be able to fulfill all of our needs for a long time,” Governor Bentley added. “That means fossil fuels will continue to be an important source of energy for the foreseeable future. We simply must continue to develop our North American fossil fuel resources in a safe and responsible manner. This assessment will help us better understand the resources that are available while also helping us meet our energy needs.”

    The assessment may include an inventory of existing core and well logs for data collection; identification of data gaps; acquisition and interpretation of additional data; detailed geologic reservoir modeling; a refined estimate of oil reserves; and an inventory of existing and new infrastructure needed to support the industry. Through the analysis, it will also look into any legal or regulatory barriers to commercial deployment across the geographical boundary between the States.

    “Communities and businesses depend on reliable sources of energy,” Governor Bentley concluded. “That’s why it’s so important to explore our resources. Through this assessment, we can better understand the resources we have and the most responsible methods of developing them.”

    This practice of extracting oil sands is no stranger to Canada, which has a long history of extracting from oil sands with the largest deposits located in Alberta. The International Energy Agency (IEA) lists Canada’s reserves as being 178 billion barrels and Gov. Bryant believes there is opportunity for our two states to learn from our Canadian neighbors.

    “Canada has proven to be a leader in oil sand recovery, and we hope through this evaluation process we can collaborate and share knowledge on best practices,” Bryant said.

    Click here for a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding: Mississippi and Alabama MOU

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