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Estonia company wants to pull 2.6 billion barrels of oil from Utah

Published: Saturday, July 13 2013 1:05 p.m. MDT

Hrenko said the company hopes to have all its permits in place by 2017 and be producing its first oil by 2020. Full production would begin by 2024.

Last year and continuing into 2013, the company began exploratory drilling and some oil has already been Utah oil shale has been produced at the company's research and development facility in Germany, she said.

Viable commercial oil shale production, which Eneift officials say is proven technology in its home country of Estonia, has yet to be accomplished in the United States.

Abelson said that's at the heart of determining if the plan will be Utah's economic energy boom, or as some critics see it, the state's environmental bust.

"The question remains if these guys can pull it off," Abelson said, noting that Utah rock is different in composition than Estonian rock, so the process may not be difficult. Critics have long blasted oil shale as a failed financial enterprise, but Hrenko likes to point out Enefit is owned by the Estonian government, which already gets 91 percent of its energy from oil shale and is bank-rolling expanded operations to Jordan as well.

Abelson and the organization's attorney, Rob Dubuc, said they will never endorse Enefit's Utah project, and will never be convinced it will bring good things to the state. But they said they appreciate Enefit's willingness to sit down and listen.

"Unlike a lot of the companies we come across in Utah, they see the benefit of talking about these issues with their critics, and I have to give them credit, Abelson said.

Added Dubuc, "They're smart. They are not to be dismissed."

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com, Twitter: amyjoi16

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