All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Richard A Esposito

Advisory Committee Members

Bennett L Bearden

Scott Brande

Michelle V Fanucchi

Berry H Tew

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2018

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering

Abstract

In July 2013, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by the Governors of the states of Alabama and Mississippi to jointly conduct a comprehensive geologic, engineering, and legal assessment of oil sands resources associated with the Hartselle Sandstone formation including the identification of environmental best practices associated with developing these resources. Pursuant to the MOU, the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) began a limited geological evaluation of the potential development of Alabama’s oil sand resources. This dissertation compliments those GSA efforts by identifying and assessing environmental and social sustainability risks associated with the potential development of Alabama’s oil sands within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 31010 risk management standard framework to provide an interdisciplinary sustainability risk management strategy that considers the inter-related disciplinary aspects of regulation, technology, and sustainability to address the environmental best practices component of the MOU. The bitumen extraction technologies currently being used to recover bitumen from geological formations that are most like the Hartselle Sandstone are proprietary and confidential. Furthermore, currently available bitumen extraction technologies have not been tested on Hartselle Sandstone oil sand deposits. In 2013 when the MOU was signed, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil prices exceeded $100 per barrel. Since the MOU was signed, WTI oil prices dropped below $30 per barrel and are now around $60 per barrel. While the economic aspect of oil sands development is not the focus of this dissertation, it is important to point out that interest in the potential development of Alabama’s oil sands has diminished with the price of oil. Nonetheless, this dissertation provides an interdisciplinary model for the sustainable development of Alabama’s oil sands when and if oil prices rise to incentivize such development. The interdisciplinary approach provided within this dissertation can be applied to the sustainable development of other oil and gas formations.

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Engineering Commons

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