Alabama explores potential of tapping into its oil sands reserves

Alabama is taking a leaf out of the Canadian playbook by exploring the potential of its oil sands reserves, estimated to contain close to 7.5 billion barrels of crude.

In late July, the state joined Mississippi to form a partnership that is studying the resource in the two states, the first oil sands-related research since the 1980s.

According to experts quoted by The Associated Press, the revision is likely to lead to better reserve estimates and models, as well as other information critical to stimulate private sector interest and guide development.

"This could become a brand new industry for our state, and it could create thousands of jobs and the tax revenue would probably be very high," Rep. Micky Hammon was quoted as saying.

The extraction method to implement, strip mining or drilling, will depend on the depth of the deposit, known as the Hartselle Sandstone, which stretches from north-central and northwest Alabama into northeastern Mississippi.

Last year, the Canadian Consulate General in Atlanta, and the Alberta government hosted Southern States Energy Board members and geologists from Alabama and Mississippi for a series of meetings and tours showcasing the oil sands operations in the province.