Governors Phil Bryant and Robert Bentley recently announced in remarks before the Southern States Energy Board that they had signed a memorandum of understanding, jointly commissioning a comprehensive study of Mississippi and Alabama's oil sands reserves.  The project, which will include comprehensive geological, engineering, and legal analysis will be a joint effort between the Geological Survey of Alabama/State Oil and Gas Board, the Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Office of Geology and the Southern States Energy Board and is hoped to lead to the commercial development of the area.

The Hartselle Sandstone formation extends from north-central and northwest Alabama into northeastern Mississippi and is comprised of a natural mixture of sand, clay, water, and bitumen.  When extracted from the sands, bitumen can be converted to refinery-ready crude oil.  The formation's reserves were last estimated in the 1980s to contain more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil.