Red Leaf Resources controls oil shale leases of about 17,000 acres on state land in Seep Ridge, Utah, an acreage that represents about 1.1 billion barrels of oil. Their mission is to develop a new technology called the “EcoShale In-Capsule Process” in order to bring economical liquid hydrocarbon transportation fuels to the market from unconventional hydrocarbons including oil shale, tar sands, coal, and lignite. In 2012, Red Leaf Resources formed a joint venture with Total S.A. to launch the commercial scale production utilizing the EcoShale In-Capsule Process on oil shale leaseholds in Utah's Uintah Basin.
The company plans to mine the shale rock, place it in a clay capsule, which will be larger than a football field and 120 feet deep, and then heat the capsules with closed-system pipes containing heated natural gas for six to eight months. Red Leaf claims that their process uses very little water compared to other conventional methods but some critics are not convinced, and believe the clay capsules might fail and leak hydrocarbons into the ground.
According to the conservation group Western Resource Advocates, the companies holding water rights from the Colorado River have not been forthcoming about how much water this process would take. The group took Chevron to water court, where they had to say just how much water they needed – or risk losing their rights. In 2014 the lawsuit prompted Chevron to argue that it would need 120,000 acre-feet of water to meet its goal of producing 500,000 barrels of oil a day. These numbers are important to water managers in their statewide and regional planning for the future in this drought-stricken region.
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