February 19, 2013
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Wyoming Geological Survey Releases Energy Report Series
Wyoming continues to be a leader in the production of vital energy resources used to power the nation, as detailed in a series of reports on oil and natural gas, coal, and uranium, published by the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS).
Wyoming is the largest producer of coal in the United States, ranks third in natural gas and eighth in crude oil, and contains the largest uranium reserves in the nation.
“These fossil fuels are the backbone of Wyoming’s energy production efforts, providing valuable jobs and millions of dollars each year to the state’s economy,” said Tom Drean, director of the WSGS. “Our summary reports are intended to provide the public and decision makers with current and relevant information on the geology, production, distribution, and consumption of Wyoming’s energy resources.” Copies of the reports were recently distributed by the agency to the Wyoming Legislature.
The four-page WSGS Summary Reports – oil and natural gas, coal, and uranium – are available online (click here) and include graphics, tables, maps, and sidebars.
In 2011, the state produced 40 percent of all the coal mined in the United States. That same year the state accounted for nearly 10 percent of U.S. marketed natural gas. Wyoming’s uranium resource, after being hit hard from a drop in price in the 1980s, is poised to make a comeback thanks to rising spot prices as a result of increased world demand for nuclear power. The state currently has 26 mining operations in the planning or permitting phase.
Oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium – the most common fuels in the world – together account for more than 90 percent of the nation’s energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The United States currently uses 22 percent of all energy produced in the world.
Over the past decade Wyoming has become the No. 2 producer of energy in the United States with 14 percent of the nation’s output, supplying the country with more than 10 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) or 10 quads of energy per year.
In 2011, the United States produced 78 quads of energy, a record in our nation’s history. Despite this fact, U.S. energy consumption was above production at 97 quads, which led to the nation importing 19 percent of its energy.
The EIA predicts U.S. energy production will exceed growth in total U.S. energy consumption through 2040. The EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2013 listed “consumer preferences, improved technology, economic changes pushing the nation toward more domestic energy production, greater vehicle efficiency, greater use of clean energy, and reduced energy imports” as the reasons.
Wyoming’s geologic basins contain some of the largest fossil fuel deposits in the United States. Ancient seas that once covered the state represent the beginnings of the formation of our energy resources used today. Later in geologic time, Cretaceous and Tertiary peat swamps produced additional gas, as well as the thick coals found throughout the state, in particular in the Powder River Basin. Mountain building and subsequent burial provided ideal pressure and temperature conditions, which contributed to the formation of Wyoming’s petroleum basins found today. As water flowed from the state’s mountains and highlands, it leached uranium from rocks and transported it into sandstones within Wyoming’s sedimentary basins.