Coal production decline in Powder River Basin may be speeding up

first_imgCoal production decline in Powder River Basin may be speeding up FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Casper Star Tribune:Warning bells are ringing across Wyoming’s Powder River Basin that the largest producing coal region of the country is in big trouble.One of the largest players, Cloud Peak Energy, is likely facing bankruptcy. A newcomer to coal country, Blackjewel LLC has struggled to pay its taxes despite increasing production, and the total volume of Wyoming’s black rock that miners are estimated to produce – a number that translates to jobs, state and county revenue — keeps going down.After the coal bust of 2015, when 1,000 Wyoming miners lost work and three coal companies went through bankruptcy, a period of stability settled over the coal sector in Wyoming. The idea that coal would slowly decline, partly buoyed up by the results of carbon research, and just maybe an export avenue to buyers in the Pacific Rim, took hold. Wyoming made its peace with the idea that coal’s best years were likely behind her, but that a more modest future for Wyoming coal, with manageable losses over time, was also likely.That may not be the case.Within 10 years, demand for Powder River Basin coal could fall to 176 million tons, said John Hanou, president of Hanou Energy Consulting and a long-time expert on the Powder River Basin. That figure includes Montana’s production and presumes that coal plants in the U.S. are taken offline as soon as they hit 60 years of age. If Wyoming is lucky and gas prices are high, that count could hold closer to 224 million. Or it could be even worse.Economics could push out existing demand even faster, while wind development going up in the Midwest could eat into Wyoming’s coal market in that region. Natural gas prices, high or low, could alter the rate of change in Wyoming’s coal sector.More: Wyoming coal is likely declining faster than expectedlast_img

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