ASPHALT RIDGE DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
- 09 Jul
ASPHALT RIDGE DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
ASPHALT RIDGE HISTORY
The Asphalt Ridge oil sand deposit is located approximately 4 miles Southwest of Vernal, Utah. The deposit stretches approximately 11 miles along Asphalt Ridge and contains an estimated 1.1 billion barrels of bitumen. The deposit has been identified as a potential hydrocarbon resource since the 1800’s. Since that time, numerous development concepts have been promoted to exploit the resource.
BRIEF HISTORY OF ASPHALT RIDGE DEVELOPMENT
Significant historical activities involving the Asphalt Ridge deposits:
• First known mining for local road paving as early as 1920’s
• First known extraction plant built in 1930’s (using hot water extraction)
• In the 1950’s Knickerbocker Investment Company and W.M. Barnes Engineering Company acquired a large block of oil placer mining claims and began the first comprehensive evaluation program (drilling and mapping).
• Subsequent to this work, the claims were then leased to Sohio Petroleum Co., which completed its own extensive drilling and mapping program.
• In the 1970’s, Major Oil Co. obtained a working agreement with Sohio to mine oil sands, extract the bitumen, and ship the bitumen to a refinery in Roosevelt, Utah. The extraction technology used was a hot-water solvent process.
• In the 1970’s several other oil companies also performed exploratory drilling, including; Sun Oil Co., Texaco, Phillips, and Shell.
• Throughout the 1980's and 1990's Uinta County utilized the raw tar sands to make cold mix and hot mix asphalts for local road paving.
• Buena Ventura Resources (later Crown Energy) obtained several leases covering the Asphalt Ridge deposits in the early 1990’s.
• Crown Energy and MCN Energy built an extraction plant based on solvent extraction technology at Asphalt Ridge in 1997.
• In 1998, Mr. Burk Adams (JAM Industrial) was retained by Crown and later by MCN to assist in commissioing the extraction plant. The solvent extraction technology was problematic in several areas, and the plant was not able to operate continuously.
• In 1999, MCN Energy retained the Canadian Western Research Centre (CANMET) to conduct tests at the facility to develop an alternative bitumen extraction process. Mr. Adams and Mr. Phil Coleman led the engineering and management effort for MCN and with the assistance of CANMET built and operated a hot water extraction pilot plant at the site in 1999 and 2000. The testing plant was operated successfully for 14 months, processing nearly 15,000 tons of oil sands.
• MCN Energy was acquired by Detroit Edison (DTE) in 2001.
• In 2003, DTE acquired full ownership of the Asphalt Ridge leases and plant assets. DTE decided not to pursue development of Asphalt Ridge since it did not fit their strategic goals as a Michigan utility company.
• WEMBCO owned the A tract and D tract deposits at Asphalt Ridge since the 1970's and leased these lands to Crown and later DTE. In 2004, DTE yielded control of the land and plant assets to WEMBCO.
• In 2008, Korea Technology Industry America (KTIA) purchased WEMBCO which included the lands and plant assets. In January, 2008 KTIA retained the services of JAM Industrial to assist in the development of the site.
• In January, 2009 KTIA with the assistance of JAM began design of a retrofit of the existing facilities to implement a 1,200 barrel/day hot water extraction facility based on the 1999 - 2000 pilot facility.
• In January, 2010 commissioning of the constructed facility successfully commenced.
• In February, 2010 KTIA experienced financial difficulties and project construction halted.
• In November, 2011 JAM Industrial was retained by Rutter & Wilbanks Corp., under bankruptcy oversight, to finalize construction of the hot water extraction facility.
• In June, 2012 plant construction was finished and the extraction plant was successfully commissioned.
• In 2014 bankruptcy was finalized and ownership was transferred to Tar Sands Holdings II, LLC.