Welcome to the Star-Tribune’s Energy Journal, a play-by-play of the past week in Wyoming’s world of energy. I’m your energy and natural resources reporter, Camille Erickson.
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Last week in numbers
Friday oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) $56.30, Brent (ICE) $60.95
Friday natural gas: Henry Hub $2.43, Wyoming Pool $2.24, Opal $2.24
Baker Hughes rig count: U.S 898, Wyoming 36
Quote of the week
“I think the important thing to highlight is the Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) doesn’t represent Navajo people. NTEC is about making money at the end of the day and that is what has become very troubling for us.”
-- Andrew Curley, University of North Carolina geography professor studying indigenous communities and energy development
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- Wyoming lawmakers proposed marketing the Powder River Basin’s coal to new customers, hoping to boost the industry by connecting its product to international markets, at the Legislature’s Joint Minerals Committee. Members advanced a draft bill that would provide $1 million to the office of Gov. Mark Gordon to respond to coal’s downturn.
- Hundreds of out-of-work Blackjewel coal miners across the country lost their health care Saturday, after bankrupt coal operator Blackjewel received court approval to terminate its health insurance program.
- The sale of bankrupt coal operator Cloud Peak Energy’s three Powder River Basin mines to Navajo Transitional Energy Company last month has ushered in a wave of concern from Diné communities in the Navajo Nation.
- Though conversations about potential risks to the environment or to human health were front and center at this week’s first – and only – meeting of the Spent Fuel Rods Subcommittee in Casper, the possibility that Wyoming would ever get a repository to store the nation’s nuclear waste seemed a distant one at the close of business Thursday.
- A tug-of-war over federal mineral royalty payments played out in Wyoming federal court last week between industry groups and the Interior Department. The challenged Obama-era rule requires companies to pay market value price on royalties after extracting minerals on federal and tribal land. The judge has yet to announce a decision.
- Widespread global tensions between oil producing giants alongside record shale production and dwindling demand has translated into weeks of volatility in oil markets (via WSJ).
- Cleaning up thousands of Wyoming's orphaned wells abandoned around 2014 after the coal-bed methane boom comes with significant costs for the state (via NPR).
- Oil and gas developers said they’ve carried an unfair share of blame over declines in mule deer populations. Disruptive development from roads, urban sprawl and general human activity also affect the migration patterns of mule deer, according to interviews with several energy developers.