July 29, 2013 8:21:23 AM
MOBILE -- The governors of Mississippi and Alabama said Saturday their two states will partner to study oil sands resources.
Oil sands are a sandy mixture found below the surface containing bitumen. After extracting the sand, the bitumen can be transformed into crude oil that can be refined.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced the partnership Saturday while speaking to the Southern States Energy Board during a meeting in Mobile.
Republican governors signed a memorandum of understanding that commissions the assessment of oil sands in both states, according to a news release. The Southern States Energy Board will team up with various agencies from Mississippi and Alabama to conduct the study.
"As I have said before, for our nation to become more energy independent, we must recognize the importance of a forward-thinking approach to energy and continue to develop a comprehensive energy policy that works," Bryant said in a statement.
The resource is known as the Hartselle Sandstone, an underground layer that stretches from north-central and northwest Alabama into northeastern Mississippi.
A recent study found an estimated 7.5 billion barrels of oil located in the reserves, the governors say.
"By taking this action, we're exploring the potential for safe and reliable development of energy right here at home," Bentley said in a statement.
Bryant said Mississippi and Alabama can learn from Canada, where the extraction of oil sands has been successful.
"Canada has proven to be a leader in oil sand recovery, and we hope through this evaluation process we can collaborate and share knowledge on best practices," Bryant said.