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Natural gas-power to hit near record highs as coal-use hovers lower

Natural gas use is projected to hit near record highs as people crank the air conditioning over the hot summer months, while coal’s share o… Read more

Coal-bed methane's leftover roads and Revelation Energy's legal tangles

Heather Richards 307-266-0592, Heather.Richards@trib.com​ ​ ​

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) $70.58 Brent (ICE) $74.92

Natural gas weekly averages: Henry Hub $2.85, Wyoming Pool $2.39, Opal $2.46

Baker Hughes rig count: U.S. 1,054, Wyoming 27

Quote of the Week

“The life expectancy of these coal bed wells is 10 to 15 years … We would have been here no matter what.” 

-- Casey Friese, acting field manager of the BLM's Buffalo Field Office on dealing with network of access roads to be reclaimed post coal-bed methane regardless of the infamous bust.

The newcomer 

Revelation Energy, the coal firm that bought the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines, has paid the $4 million in taxes it owed Campbell County. But the newcomer's troubles continue in court. In a second lawsuit recently filed against the firm, a company is alleging that Revelation committed fraud and stiffed them on royalty payments.

Jeff Hoops, the CEO of both Revelation and Blackjewel LLC -- the firm created to take the Wyoming mines, has denied the charges. 

Blackjewel has yet to obtain permits for the two Wyoming mines, but Hoops said the bonds were in-hand and ready to be filed with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. 

CBM's ongoing legacy

The Bureau of Land Management is trying to figure out what to do about the thousands of miles of coal-bed methane roads across the Powder River Basin, starting with about 600 miles. 

To reclaim or reuse? A lot of locals want those roads returned to wilderness, worried about an influx in people near their private land or frustrated that companies could "get off the hook" for post-development clean up. 

But others note the access that roads can provide to isolated parcels of public land, particularly for hunters. For its part the BLM says no company is getting out of reclamation, but that the agency wanted the public to consider whether they wanted to keep the roads. 

PacifiCorp's coal

Sierra Club is digging in on the topic of PacifiCorp's coal plants. The groups says they are uneconomic and has provided a study that says just that. 

But the company, parent of Wyoming's largest utility Rocky Mountain Power, has refused to release its own coal numbers. The company, and others, note that the Sierra Club study doesn't tell the whole story when it comes to electricity and what was once the cheapest source of power in the country: coal. 

In other news …

Gov. Matt Mead is heading to Washington to testify on the Endangered Species Act. Here's some background on what's going on with the ESA and why Mead has been a key player leading up to potential changes. 

The Powder River Basin produced a study tracking coal reclamation at Wyoming mines, reporting that for more than 200 square miles disturbed for mining, as little as 2.3 percent has been wholly reclaimed. 

The Energy Journal podcast will be up next week! Until then, catch up on episodes you may have missed from coal power to whispers of a boom in the oil fields. 

Energy Journal podcast, episode 9

 

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