Lawmakers expressed support Monday for perhaps building a new "pre-refinery" for thick, waxy crude oil in the Uinta Basin.
The Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment committee unanimously endorsed SCR8 by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, and sent it to the full Senate.
Van Tassell said the oil industry is exploring the possibility of building a facility that would "crack" the molecules of waxy crude, allowing it to remain in liquid form and be transported by pipeline. Otherwise, he said the crude produced in the Uinta Basin quickly turns into a petroleum jelly when it cools.
He said such pre-refining could double the crude oil production there. He said a resolution supporting such efforts gives more confidence to potential investors by showing the state supports its goals as the industry works to meet environmental and other regulations.
If it receives final approval, the resolution instructs that copies be sent to the U.S. secretary of the Interior, Utah's congressional delegation and other regulatory agencies.