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Last week in numbers
Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $56.55 Brent (ICE) $62.72
Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $3.11, Wyoming Pool $2.81, Opal $2.84
Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 915, Wyoming 21
Quote of the week
“We are in that pattern now where we are waiting for the next thing to give the state a boost,” Jim Robinson, Wyoming state economist
State economists say Wyoming's fiscal health is closer to what it was before the bust, when you look at mining spending, tourism and wages. But that doesn't make up for the incredible revenue losses its suffered over the last few years.
More importantly, there's no short-term boost expected. For now, the economy is what it is.
Lease sales surprise
All year, federal and state oil and gas lease sales have been positive. But on the state side, the auction of land for development exceeded revenue expectations by 500 percent this year, according to State Lands.
The good old PRB
The Energy Journal podcast is back, an opportunity to listen in on the conversations that turn into energy stories at the Star-Tribune. The podcast coincides with our energy business story that falls on the third Sunday of the month, and it will always be linked here in the Energy Journal newsletter.
You can also check it out online at Trib.com or on our Twitter feed @EnergyJRNL.
This month we talk to an operator enamored with the Powder River Basin. Industry is figuring out the intriguing rock and its long-assumed potential and looking rosy-eyed to the future of this play.
As operators push to develop the PRB hoping for a Bakken-level boom, others are more cautious, fearing the tumult and risk associated with booms, and their busts. And federal regulators are caught in the middle, balancing numerous interests in the energy state.
Coal bed blues
The company that bought Storm Cat's producible wells in the northern Powder River Basin is having trouble getting landowner access to the coal bed methane assets.
After years of disagreement over the abandoned wells, it seems no one is willing to draw up new contracts.
The company went before the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Tuesday asking for a time extension to deal with the landowner dilemma. They'd previously been order to have agreements in place within three months of the well sale in August.
The commission agreed to more time, with provisions.
No good deed
Cloud Peak isn't associated with debts. The company avoided the over-leveraging that ultimately pushed Peabody, Arch and Alpha Natural Resources towards bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, the firm does have debt, it just has about four years before it comes due thanks to restructuring last year.
The coal market is tightening and right now the strongest players are the ones that filed for Ch. 11 and came out shedding their debt burdens, not the ones that avoided it in the first place.
Being a good neighbor
Federal regulators have awarded four Wyoming coal companies with a good neighbor award for reclamation and community engagement.
Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, Kiewit Mining Group, and Peabody Energy, were singled out for their stewardship and collaboration with the Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association.
"Partnering with the ranching and business communities and working collaboratively is clearly in the best interest of our state," said Travis Deti, Wyoming Mining Association executive director. "Our reclamation and environmental stewardship are world class, and we can all be proud of the men and women who work so hard to make this happen."