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An Estonian company, Eesti Energia/Enefit, has purchased a 100 percent interest in Oil Shale Exploration Co. of Alabama, which had large oil-shale holdings in Utah.

Noting that Utah has considerable potential for oil shale development, Gov. Gary Herbert said "in Enefit, we have a company which has the technology, commitment, history and financing to try and bring that oil shale to market. … [This] falls in line with our policy of responsible energy development and allowing the free market to drive a more secure energy future for Utah and the nation."

In existence for more than 30 years, Eesti Energia/Enefit mines produce 1.3 million barrels of oil annually from the mining of 15 million tons of oil shale.

It operates several shale oil plants, primarily in Narva, Estonia, and also has operations in Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Jordan.

Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said the sale advances "Utah's plan to expand our energy independence and increase our export opportunities. It will also open the door to jobs in the Uinta Basin in an industry that has been waiting for a commitment like this."

Mike Gorrell