TOTAL In Utah, promoting oil shale extraction

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SALT LAKE CITY — A scientific conference on oil shale development is returning to the University of Utah.

It starts early Tuesday with an executive for French oil company Total S.A. discussing oil-shale prospects in Utah and Colorado.

An emphasis of this year's conference is how computer modeling can help companies mine and produce oil shale and capture carbon emissions.

The federal government decided in November to make 1,250 square miles of land available for oil shale development across parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Players must prove their research before getting started.

Oil shale contains fossilized algae — a primitive form of oil that never received enough heat or pressure to produce liquid crude. Companies are focusing on baking or steaming rock in the ground to release fluids.