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Coal

A coal train approaches the Black Thunder mine outside Wright on March 29. 

Have an event, trend or general energy happening you’d like to see in the Energy Journal newsletter? Send it to Star-Tribune energy reporter Heather Richards at heather.richards@trib.com. Sign up for the newsletter at www.trib.com/energyjournal

Last week in numbers

Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $56.46, Brent (ICE) $66.76

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $4.19, Wyoming Pool $4.21, Opal $4.24

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 1,082, Wyoming 30

Quote of the Week 

“It’s sort of like the last stages of a Monopoly game when the people with the most money and/or best properties start buying up the smaller players to have greater control of the end game."

-- Rob Godby, director of the Center of Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming, regarding Cloud Peak Energy's consideration of sale options

Cloud Peak looks at options

Wyoming's only pure Powder River Basin player, Cloud Peak Energy, will consider a number of strategies going forward, including selling the company. The company's execs also recently signed retention bonuses up to 100 percent of their salary.

Wyoming's coal industry has stabilized after being rocked by a market downturn. But the new normal for coal is uncertain as companies are competing for a smaller pool of buyers across the U.S. However, a sale wouldn't be an easy out for Cloud Peak, as reported in S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

Coal production down 

Wyoming coal production fell in the third quarter compared to last year. About half of the 4 million-ton drop occurred at Cloud Peak's Antelope Mine, where washouts impeded production. 

Production rose statewide from earlier in the year by 20 percent. 

Converse County oil eyed in lawsuit

An environmental group is suing the Bureau of Land Management over the 5,000-well Converse County oil and gas project. Western Watersheds Project argues that the agency has withheld information regarding endangered species.

A new look at wind

Wyoming's energy industries drive a tremendous portion of the workforce, but some of those positions are less well-known than others. 

In the wind industry, some sites have installed biologists to scan the skies all day waiting for eagles. Two towers serve that purpose at PacifiCorp's wind farms north of Rolling Hills

Searching for wastewater solutions

The idea isn't new to industry, which is well aware of the water challenge it manages. But the problem is growing. 

In other news … 

Rep. Liz Cheney's bill removing wilderness study area designations from willing counties like Sweetwater made it through committee Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would open up protected parcels of land for other uses including drilling. Opponents have criticized the bill as political posturing that won't find traction in Congress. 

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Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner

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Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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