Friday, March 1, 2013

Powder River Basin Coal Assessment

A major geologic feature in Wyoming and Montana has in recent years become well known by a significant number of Washington State folks - the Powder River Basin. The Powder River is located within this geologic basin, but the Powder River Basin as a geologic feature covers an even larger area.
 
 
Northeast Wyoming geologic basins (USGS)
 
This down warp (basin) has preserved a vast amount of coal. The USGS recently released an updated assessment of the coal reserves in the basin. This update has been greatly enhanced by the vast amount of drilling for gas in the basin (another vast resource in the basin) that has provided lots of data on the coal seams. The assessment can be found at usgs.gov/publication/fs20123143 or a summary  usgs.gov/newsroom/article. Its worth reading to gain an understanding of what geologists mean by the term reserves. The USGS routinely does reserve assessments and in the case of the Powder River Basin its a big deal because most of the coal in the Powder River Basin is owned by us. Its our coal and understanding what our reserves are is important. There is also an interesting dynamic between oil and gas resources and coal resources embedded within the assessment.

1 comment:

Geoffrey Middaugh said...

Remember this too: There are 13 active coal mines in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin. These mines produced about 496 million short tons as of September 2009. Coal mines in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming employed over 6,800 personnel in 2008.

North Porcupine Coal Lease Sale Winning Bid Over $793 Million

The electricity used by one out of every five homes and businesses in the US is produced from coal mined in Wyoming.
Over 100 coal trains enter Wyoming empty and leave loaded and bound for all points daily.
Nearly one in six Wyoming workers are directly or indirectly employed in coal development.
The largest US coal mine, Black Thunder, lies within the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin