The Powder River Basin Potential

Written By Luke Burgess

Posted July 26, 2005

Coal is the power behind your electricity.

Every time you turn on a light, your computer or television, you’re most likely using coal.

Over 55 percent of America’s electric power is generated by coal.

In the United States, coal adds a whopping $81 billion a year to the economy and more than one million jobs for Americans.

And right now this precious commodity is trading at record highs.

August futures trade for around $56. But it’s going higher. It’s almost guaranteed.

In fact the Dow Jones US Coal Index has been the top performing index for the past six months.

During the past half year the index is up over 50%.

And since this time 3 years ago the index is up around 450%.

Check out the chart.

Pretty incredible huh?

Well the good news is that unlike oil we have a massive amount of coal right here in the United States.

According to experts in this field, the USA holds about a quarter of the world’s total coal reserves.

Most these reserves are located in the mid-west of the country.

The Powder River Basin is the single largest source of coal mined in the United States.

The 14 million acre area spans the Montana – Wyoming border contains one of the largest deposits of coal in the world.

It has been estimated that Powder River Basin coal deposits contains over 800 billion tons of coal.

That’s 16,000,000,000,000,000 pounds!!!

The low sulfur and ash content of the coal in the region makes it very desirable.

In recent years over 350 million tons of coal have been mined annually from the Powder River Basin.

That’s more than 25% of the total U.S. production.

Incrediably over 8,800 car trainloads of coal are shipped from Wyoming mines each day.

In fact, according to one report I read, in 2003 Wyoming’s mass decreased by 432,000,000 tons, from coal that was extracted from the state.

But the coal mining boom has just begun

The number of coal bed methane wells is estimated to grow from 39,000 in 2003 to about 51,000 by 2013!

One of the biggest mines in the Powder River Basin is the Black Thunder Mine.

The mine is owned and operated by the Arch Coal Company, the nation’s second largest coal company

More than two tons of coal is produced at the Black Thunder mine every second!

And that’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

This is an amount of energy equivalent to a 600,000 barrel per day oil field.

That’s enough to power over 5 million typical American homes.

Though the coal industry is said to have been suffering in recent years, the rapid rise in oil prices seem to support the market of coal for the immediate future.

Most likely you’re using coal right now as you read this.

Maybe even Powder River Coal.

There has been a lot of talk around the office about coal lately.

We’ll be keeping a sharp eye out for some more killer coal bed methane plays for you.

-Luke Burgess 

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