Firms gain jump start in oil shale operations

Two companies that have developed techniques for extracting resources from oil shale have joined the lengthening list of firms approved to take advantage of tax credits offered under a new state program.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission has approved General Synfuels International and Qmast to participate in the Rural Jump-Start Program in Mesa County.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership, an organization that recruits businesses and assists them in applying for the program, announced the decisions.

“It’s fantastic to see the energy industry growing again in Mesa County,” said Kristi Pollard, executive director of GJEP. “The jump-start tax credit program is not only bringing energy business back to Mesa County, but creating a hub here for innovation and green technology in the energy space.”

GSI has developed what it bills as an environmentally friendly, self-sustaining and economically attractive process to recover oil and gas products form oil shale.

“GSI has been afforded an opportunity with the jump-start program to launch our potential game-changing process for the development of oil shale gasification technologies,’ said Dave Kanuch, vice president and chief engineer of the firm. “GSI will use the program and its benefits to attract local technical and environmental expertise to support the program. We are excited about this opportunity in Grand Junction and look forward  to   working   with   Colorado  Mesa University and expanding our overall business efforts in the community.”

Qmast also has developed a process for removing hydrocarbons from oil shale, tar sands, tight shale and conventional oil and gas reserves using a high-power microwave system. The company is expanding a prototype system and plans to hire more than 350 people at its Grand Junction facility over the next five years.

The Rural Jump-Start program creates zones in Colorado in which eligible businesses are exempted from paying state and local taxes. Qualifying businesses are exempt from paying state income, use and sales taxes as well as county and municipal personal property taxes. In Mesa County, local government jurisdictions have offered additional incentives.

To participate, the core functions of businesses may not compete with existing operations. Businesses must create a minimum of five net new jobs in the county in which they’re located and establish a relationship with an institution of higher education — Colorado Mesa University in Mesa County.

Businesses are evaluated annually to ensure ongoing compliance. Businesses may receive tax exemptions for up to four years with an option for an additional four years.

GSI and Qmast are the latest of seven companies that have gained approved for jump-start incentives since the beginning of the year, when Mesa County was the first county in Colorado selected to participate in the program.

The other companies are:

Colorado Clear, which has developed a plastic container that’s both recyclable and biodegradable. The Palisade company also bottles water in the containers.

KAART Group, which  has developed an open source solution for storing geographic data from remote locations across the globe.

ProStar Geocorp, which has  developed computer software to help pipeline and utility companies locate and manage infrastructure.

REBCO, which  manufactures what it brands as the Hydropot, a low-energy,
self-contained, soiless growing system that recycles water. The company distributes its products to hydroponics stores, nurseries and wholesale distributors nationwide.

TSW Analytics, an Australian-based forensics investigation and technology development firm that opened its first North American operation in Mesa County.

The seven companies are expected to bring a total of more than 550 jobs to Mesa County by the end of 2020 and pay higher salaries than the average for the state.