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May 05, 2005

Ka Ching II: The Wrath of Khan

Small oil company anounces billion-dollar find:

A tiny oil company has snapped up leasing rights to a half-million acres in central Utah that it says could yield a billion barrels or more of oil.

Geologists are calling it a spectacular find — the largest onshore discovery in at least 30 years, located in a region of complex geology long abandoned for exploration by major oil companies. It's turning out to contain high-quality oil already commanding a premium at refineries.

With the secret out, industry players expect a bidding war to break out at the next Utah leasing auction, set for May 17 in Salt Lake City.

At today's prices the oil reserve could bring Utah $5.6 billion in royalties, state auditors conservatively estimate. Although the discovery is still playing out, the oil will take years to recover and some skeptics question the company's projections for a region yet to be fully surveyed.

"It's just very highly unlikely because the U.S. onshore has been picked clean, if you will," said Fadel Gheit, senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

"That's like finding a wallet in the subway after all the cleaners went through it. It's possible, but very highly unlikely," he said.

Gov. Jon Huntsman said he was aware of the discovery "and we are tracking the progress with great interest. If the prospects prove to be true, it will be important that the resources are developed responsibly."

Gee, I hope there aren't any caribou around.

Thanks to LauraW.


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posted by Ace at 10:51 AM

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