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Coal Current Events

Diamonds Do Not Form From Coal
April 22, 2014 |

How diamonds form is one of the most common geological misconceptions. Diamonds form under a variety of conditions that rarely, if ever, involve coal as a source of carbon. In fact, most diamonds formed long before the first coal swamp or land plant!

Mineral Rights
April 17, 2014 |

In most countries all mineral resources belong to the government. This includes all valuable rocks, minerals, oil or gas found on or within the Earth. In the United States ownership of mineral resources was originally granted to the individuals or organizations that owned the surface. These property owners had both “surface rights” and “mineral rights”. Since then the owners have enjoyed the freedom to sell, lease, gift or bequest these rights individually or entirely to others. Now a single plot of land on the surface can have several different subsurface owners!

Indonesia Oil and Gas Report
April 6, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

“Formerly a net oil exporter and OPEC member, Indonesia struggles to attract sufficient investment to meet growing domestic energy consumption because of inadequate infrastructure and a complex regulatory environment. At the same time, it was the world’s largest exporter of coal by weight in 2012 and the fourth largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in 2013. The government seeks to meet energy demand at home by reorienting domestic energy production away from serving primarily export markets and increasing renewable energy production, particularly geothermal power.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration publication release.

Free Colorado Geology Publications
April 1, 2014 | Colorado Geological Survey

The Colorado Geological Survey has over 500 maps and publications available for free download.

Carbon Dioxide Sequestration – Cedar Mesa Sandstone – Arizona
March 23, 2014 | Arizona Geological Survey Repository

“The potential role of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions from coal fired power plants and other industrial plants in global climate change is driving studies of sedimentary basins in Arizona for their carbon sequestration potential.” Quote from the Arizona Geological Survey Repository.

South Africa Energy Report
March 9, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

“South Africa has a large energy-intensive coal mining industry. The country has limited proved reserves of oil and natural gas and uses its large coal deposits to meet most of its energy needs. [...] South Africa also has a sophisticated synthetic fuels industry, producing gasoline and diesel fuels from coal-to-liquids and gas-to-liquids plants.

US Electricity Generation by Fuel
March 9, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

The Energy Information Administration projects a reduced share of electricity generation from coal by 2040.

Energy Consumption in China
March 9, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

“China is the world’s most populous country with a fast-growing economy that has led it to be the largest energy consumer and producer in the world. Rapidly increasing energy demand, especially for liquid fuels, has made China extremely influential in world energy markets.”

What Your Homeowner’s Insurance Does Not Cover
March 4, 2014 |

Most homeowners insurance policies have exclusions that make them worthless when the home is damaged by common geologic problems such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, mine subsidence, cavern collapse and expansive soils. When a home is damaged the homeowner often is surprised that his “all perils” policy has these exclusions.

Coal Data Browser
March 4, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

The Energy Information Administration has published an interactive map that they call their “Coal Data Browser”. It allows you to see statewide averages for variables such as total coal production, total consumption, mine productivity, tons produced per employee hour, sulfur content burned in power production and many, many more. Check it out if you like coal datasulfur-content.gif

Interactive Energy Map of the United States
March 2, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

The Energy Information Administration has an interactive energy map that allows you to discover the locations of facilities such as natural gas power plants, petroleum refineries, natural gas pipelines, LNG import/export terminals and much more. The choropleth map below shows the photovoltaic solar potential of the 48 states with solar power plants plotted as yellow dots.

China’s State-Owned Coal Company to Partner in the Marcellus
February 23, 2014 | FuelFix

China Shenhua Energy Company is controlled by the Chinese government and is the second largest coal company in the world. They plan to partner with Energy Corporation of America to drill Marcellus Shale wells in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

A Coal Comeback?
February 18, 2014 | Forbes

Demand for natural gas is growing, local shortages are occurring, and prices have been rising. Some coal and former coal consumers might now see coal as a more stable source of energy that has multiple methods of delivery and a declining price.

Energy Consumption Growth in China
February 13, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

“China’s robust economic growth and thirst for energy resources in the past decade has driven it to become the top global energy consumer. China has the largest oil and gas production in the Asia-Pacific region and the largest coal production in the world, but the country’s escalating energy demand is increasing its reliance on imports and need to secure more energy supplies.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration’s country analysis brief.

Coal Through a Microscope
February 9, 2014 |

If you think that coal is a boring black rock then you have never seen it through a transmitted light microscope. The microscope reveals coal’s hidden beauty as well as its composition.

US Energy Mapping System
January 5, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

The Energy Information Administration has an interactive map of energy locations in the United States. You can use it to plot data layers showing the location of wind (see map sample below), coal mines, biomass plants, geothermal, hydroelectric, and many other types of energy projects.

Carbon Dioxide Storage Potential in Sedimentary Basins
December 2, 2013 | USGS

“The U.S. Geological Survey recently completed an evaluation of the technically accessible storage resource for carbon dioxide for 36 sedimentary basins in the onshore areas and State waters of the United States.” Quoted from the USGS press release.

United Nations to the Coal Industry
November 21, 2013 | United Nations News Center

Christina Figueres, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said… “It is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go ahead if they are compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit.” Quoted from the United Nations News Center.

The Largest Energy Importers
November 18, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“Japan ranked as the second largest net importer of fossil fuels in the world in 2012, trailing only China. This follows the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, after which Japan suspended operations at all of its nuclear power plants.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration.

USA Fuel Mix is Changing
November 17, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“The mix of fuels used to generate the electricity in homes, factories, and businesses across the United States has changed in the past few years as coal, still the largest single fuel used for electricity, has lost some of its share of the generation market to natural gas and non-hydroelectric renewables.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration.

Energy Trader as a New Career?
November 14, 2013 | Reuters

Five years ago the United States was importing 2 million barrels of oil per day. Now it is exporting over a million. Crude oil is shipped by train. Natural gas is displacing coal from power generation. LNG is being exported. Renewable energy generation is growing. All of these changes require people for logistics and transactions.

Will Natural Gas Kill Nuclear Power?
November 12, 2013 | Pittsburgy Post-Gazette

An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explores the possibility that low cost natural gas could displace nuclear power plants.

Coal Plants Co-Firing with Wood?
November 5, 2013 | New York Times

A number of coal-fired power plants are experimenting with adding wood to their fuel stream. It is viewed by some as a way to boost the use of renewable fuels, improve emissions and lower the carbon footprint of the coal plants. The problem: The supply of wood is not reliable!

Electricity Generation Fuel Mix
October 29, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

A chart by the Energy Information Administration clearly shows trends in the fuel mix used for electricity generation in the United States.

Japan as an Energy Importer
October 29, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“Japan is the world’s largest liquefied natural gas importer, second largest coal importer, and third largest net oil importer.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration country report.

Kazakhstan Oil and Gas Report
October 28, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

Kazakhstan, an oil producer since 1911, has the second largest oil reserves as well as the second largest oil production among the former Soviet republics after Russia. Given this abundance of oil, about 64% of the country’s energy consumption is attributed to coal.

Powder River Basin Coal Assessment
October 25, 2013 | United States Geological Survey

“Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated in-place resources of 1.07 trillion short tons of coal in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and Montana. Of that total, with a maximum stripping ratio of 10:1, recoverable coal was 162 billion tons. The estimate of economically recoverable resources was 25 billion tons.” Quoted from the USGS fact sheet.

Beijing Switching to Natural Gas?
October 8, 2013 | UPI

Four coal-fired power plants in Beijing will be replaced with natural gas units by the end of 2014. The $7.8 billion project will cut 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions. At the present time, natural gas has a much higher price in China than it does in the United States.

The Impact of Shale Gas on the Coal Industry
October 6, 2013 | CBS News

The natural gas from shale boom and regulations that restrict greenhouse gas emissions from power plants have severely damaged the coal industry and its employees.

Natural Gas Use in Power Generation is Down?
September 25, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

Most people are assuming that the use of natural gas for electric power generation was higher during early 2013 than during 2012. In fact, total natural gas use for power generation in the United States was down 14% – The reason: the price of natural gas relative to the price of coal.

New Technology for Coal Fired Power Plants
September 23, 2013 | USA Today

The Environmental Protection Agency has a proposal that will require new coal-fired power plants to install a new anti-pollution technology. So far, not a single power plant in the world has successfully used this technology.

Closing Coal Plants in the UK
September 8, 2013 | National Geographic

Utilities in the UK plan to close between six and thirteen coal fired power plants within the next few years which could result in supply and price problems for customers.

Arizona Sequestration Reports
July 11, 2013 | Arizona Geological Survey

“New Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at coal fired power plants are now driving studies of sedimentary basins in Arizona for their carbon sequestration potential. Two new reports from the Arizona Geological Survey describe the suitability of the Luke and Higley Basins of Maricopa County in south-central Arizona for sequestering carbon dioxide.” Quoted from the publication press release.

The Most Energy-Intensive Industry
July 10, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“The cement industry [...] is the most energy-intensive of all manufacturing industries, with a share of national energy use roughly 10 times its share of the nation’s gross output of goods and services. On average, other energy intensive industries’ share of energy use is roughly twice their share of gross output. Cement is also unique in its heavy reliance on coal and petroleum coke.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration article.

Energy Use Rising in the USA
June 27, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“U.S. primary energy consumption totaled 8.4 quadrillion Btu, an 8-percent increase from March 2012. Petroleum made up 35 percent of primary energy consumption, natural gas 31 percent, coal 18 percent, renewable energy 9 percent, and nuclear electric power 8 percent.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration

Australia Energy Report
June 26, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

Australia, rich in hydrocarbons and uranium, was the world’s second largest coal exporter in 2011 and the third largest liquefied natural gas exporter in 2012.

Energy Shift in Maine
May 28, 2013 | Portland Press Herald

Twenty years ago the people of Maine switched from burning coal and will to burning oil. Now they are moving to natural gas.

20 Percent of USA Coal is from 2 Mines
April 7, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

Two large coal mines in Wyoming accounted for 20% of United States coal production in 2012.

The Surface Footprint of Energy
April 7, 2013 | ExxonMobil

Exxon Mobil has an animation that compares the surface footprint of various energy production methods: wind, coal mining, nuclear power and unconventional gas.

Botswana Trading Diamonds for Coal
March 5, 2013 | Mining Weekly

Botswana has been one of the world’s leaders in the production of gem-quality diamonds but production levels are not sustainable. To diversify their mineral industry the plan is to focus on coal.

Related: What countries produce gem-quality diamonds?

Powder River Basin: 162B Tons of Coal
February 28, 2013 | USGS

The Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana contains about 162 billion short tons of recoverable coal from a total of 1.07 trillion short tons of in-place resources according to a new USGS assessment.

Changes in the Energy-by-Rail Mix
February 17, 2013 | UPI

Railroads revenues are dropping as electric power plants switch from coal to natural gas. However, the use of railroads to transport crude oil is rising. This is changing the geography of rail transport and also the types of rail cars that are needed.

Low Cost Wind Electricity
February 8, 2013 | Bloomberg

A new report reveals that generating electricity from wind in Australia costs much less than generating by natural gas or coal. This means that Australia might have even more coal and natural gas for export.

China: The World’s Largest Coal Consumer
February 3, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

Coal consumption in China has been rising rapidly. Soon the country will be using more coal than the rest of the world combined.

South Africa Energy Review
January 22, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“Most of the oil consumed in South Africa, used mainly in the transportation sector, is imported from large producers in the Middle East and West Africa and is locally refined. South Africa also has a highly developed synthetic fuels industry, producing gasoline and diesel fuels from coal and natural gas.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration country report.

South Korea Depends on Energy Imports
January 21, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“EIA estimates that South Korea was the world’s tenth largest energy consumer in 2011, and with its lack of domestic reserves, Korea is one of the top energy importers in the world. In 2011, the country was the second largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the third largest importer of coal, and the fifth largest importer of crude oil. [...] In an effort to improve the nation’s energy security, oil and gas companies are aggressively seeking overseas exploration and production opportunities.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration.

For the First Time: Gas Generation = Coal Generation
January 16, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“Recently published electric power data show that, for the first time since EIA began collecting the data, generation from natural gas-fired plants is virtually equal to generation from coal-fired plants, with each fuel providing 32% of total generation.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration press release.

Indonesia Energy Economics Report
January 14, 2013 | Energy Information Administration

“Indonesia is the most populous country in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populous country in the world. The country struggles to attract sufficient investment to meet growing domestic energy consumption because of inadequate infrastructure and a complex regulatory environment. At the same time, it was the world’s largest exporter of coal by weight and the eighth largest exporter of natural gas in 2011.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration report.

We are constantly looking for interesting items related to geology and general science. When we find something interesting we share it here. Bookmark this page and visit often. You can also receive our news for free by RSS feed or email. We publish updates three or four days per week.

Homeowners InsuranceHomeowners Insurance usually does not cover damage caused by floods, landslides, earthquakes and other geohazards.
frac sandFrac Sand is a high-purity silica sand used in hydraulic fracturing to enhance the flow of oil and gas from tight rock units.
Diamond formationDiamonds from Coal? Diamonds form under a variety of conditions that rarely involve coal as a source of carbon.
fluorescent mineralsFluorescent Minerals glow with spectacular colors when illuminated in the dark with an ultraviolet lamp.
Uses of heliumHelium is a byproduct of the natural gas industry. Its most important use is in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.
Canada diamond minesCanada Diamond Mines: Canada is the third largest producer of gem-quality diamonds in the world.
Utica shaleUtica Shale: New wells in eastern Ohio prove that the Utica Shale will be a major source of natural gas and natural gas liquids.
Green River fossilsSpectacular Fossils of the Green River Formation. Some of the world's best-preserved fossil fish from an intermountain lake.
OpalOpals: Gem quality opal is one of the most spectacular gemstones. A single stone can flash with every color of the spectrum.
NovaruptaMost Powerful Eruption of the 20th Century: People in Juneau heard the volcanic blast - over one hour after it occurred.

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