August 18, 2008
Lake Still Eyed for Oil Rigs
By Associated Press
A Canadian company isn't giving up on its hopes to drill for oil in the Great Salt Lake near the Spiral Jetty art installation.
Keith Hill, president of Pearl Montana Exploration of Calgary, Alberta, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the company is addressing shortcomings in its previous applications and will resubmit them as soon as possible.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources recently returned the company's applications to drill two exploratory wells from barges about five miles from Spiral Jetty.
State officials say the company didn't provide answers to several key questions about how the project near Rozel Point would be carried out.
The company never answered questions about whether it had water rights for the project and whether it had evaluated possible effects on cultural artifacts in the area, including Spiral Jetty.
The company also never provided the state with diagrams it asked for with details about drilling rigs, barges, staging areas or equipment that would be used in case of a spill.
The company's application in January drew protests from art aficionados and environmentalists who worried about the effects of the project, especially its proximity to the jetty, a 1,500-foot coil of basalt rock and soil built by artist Robert Smithson in 1970. The jetty was given to New York's Dia Art Foundation as part of Smithson's estate.
In the e-mail, Hill said if the company gets the drilling permits, it would take all measures possible to minimize the impact on the environment, limiting the project's visual effects and going "above and beyond" safety and environmental standards required by law.
Hill said there could be millions of barrels of oil beneath the lake. The heavy oil could be used for asphalt, he said.
He said drilling could begin within about six months after the permits are approved.
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