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.

³As 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,² Gov. Bryant

³By taking this action, we¹re exploring the potential for safe and reliable
development of energy right here at home,² 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.

³We need new information on the development of the area,² Gov. Bryant said.
³By 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

³We 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,²
Governor Bentley added. ³That 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.²

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.

³Communities and businesses depend on reliable sources of energy,² Governor
Bentley concluded. ³That’s why it¹s 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.²

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.

³Canada 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,² Bryant said.