The Powder River Basin, or PRB, has a fascinating natural history and is a leading source of coal in the United States. One of the most resource-rich areas in the United States, the Powder River Basin is home to large reserves of coal, natural gas, crude oil and more. The Powder River Basin is approximately 120 miles wide and 200 miles long.
What Is the Powder River Basin?
The Powder River Basin in Wyoming refers to lower-elevation lands that reach from the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming to the Black Hills that sit on the Wyoming-South Dakota border. The Powder River Basin is home to the largest coal reserves in the U.S. Sixteen mines in the Powder River Basin produce approximately 43% of coal in the United States.
In the 1970s, the Powder River Basin coal boom began, attracting the attention of many coal mining companies. As the coal mining boom continued to develop, energy developers learned how to extract and market coalbed methane, a natural gas found in underground coal seams. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, companies drilled more than 20,000 wells on public and private land that the federal government owns the mineral rights to.
Oil and Gas in the Powder River Basin
The Powder River Basin is a geologic structure known for its extensive coal reserves and rolling grasslands. It is also a topographic basin drained by the Bighorn River, Tongue River, Little Missouri River, Powder River, Cheyenne River and their tributaries. The area plays an essential role in mining, developing and distributing coal and other minerals.
Geological History of the Powder River Basin
The thickest section of the Powder River Basin comprises Cretaceous rocks with a regressive sequence of largely sandstones and marine shales. Approximately 60 million years ago, plants began forming peat beds, which later became compressed into layers of coal. The basin’s current shape developed from the rise of the Hartville uplift and the Black Hills uplift.
The land here was once at the bottom of a shallow sea, which collected organic materials for millions of years. Over time, this material turned into sub-bituminous coal that is lower in polluting sulfur than that found elsewhere. Most coal deposits in Wyoming formed during the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods.
As the climate shifted, it became dry and cool, and erosion eventually left only a few feet of land covering the coal seam in the Powder River Basin. This closeness to the surface makes the coal in this area much easier and less expensive to mine.
The Coal Boom of the 1970s
While the initial coal boom in the basin began in the 1970s, it didn’t become the nation’s leading source of coal until the 1990 amendment of the Clean Air Act. This amendment required lower sulfur levels, leading the basin’s sub-bituminous coal and low-sulfur bituminous to become the dominant fuel for generating heat, power and electricity. The federal government owns most of the land within the basin, and the Bureau of Land Management leases it out.
Most coal from the Powder River Basin supports the country’s electric power generation. In the 1990s, many coal power plants switched to sub-bituminous coal because of its relatively low sulfur content. Today, the Powder River Basin has yielded more coal than the Appalachian basins.
Powder River Basin Oil and Gas
In addition to coal, there are extensive petroleum deposits throughout the Powder River Basin, including the Salt Creek Oil Field. The gas and oil developed from rocks ranging from the Pennsylvanian to Tertiary periods. The majority comes from the sandstones within the thicker portions of Cretaceous rocks. Oil and gas production has seen a resurgence, primarily in the Wyoming section that has historically been the source of the basin’s oil.
Powder River Basin Oil Companies and Operators
Numerous Powder River Basin oil fields operate throughout the region, providing various services from mining operations to mineral and royalty acquisitions. Flat River Minerals is a leading Powder River Basin operator that works across the oil- and gas-producing regions of Wyoming.
Flat River Minerals
The Flat River Minerals experts have spent their careers on the exploration and production side of the oil and gas industry. We focus on acquiring mineral and royalty interests in the surrounding Rockies regions. If you own property in Wyoming or the Dakotas, you may also own the rights to the minerals beneath the surface. The good news is that it’s possible to sell these rights and still maintain ownership of your above-ground property via a severed estate or a royalty arrangement.
Consider these benefits of selling your mineral rights.
- Lump-sum payment: One primary advantage of selling mineral rights is that you will receive lump-sum compensation, which can be beneficial for a large purchase. With time, depleting gas or oil interests may lose their value. Selling mineral rights allows you to benefit from your royalties’ current value and capitalize on today’s market prices.
- Facilitate estate management: Another benefit of selling your mineral rights is simplifying the estate management process. If you are liquidating or consolidating an estate, it can be tricky, expensive and time-consuming to transition your assets to your heirs. Selling your mineral rights and distributing cash assets is a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage your estate.
- Reduce uncertainty of future royalty streams: Many mineral rights owners face long-term uncertainty surrounding the value and benefits of holding onto mineral rights. Because these royalties’ value is not within your control, it can make financial planning more challenging to navigate. Selling your mineral rights and royalties is an effective and reliable way to benefit from these financial assets.
- Lower taxes: The owners of mineral rights are often subject to several taxes, making these assets less valuable. Selling these mineral rights can reduce the need for you to keep track of account data and prepare various accounting statements and tax returns.
Premier Mineral and Royalty Acquisition Company
At Flat River Minerals, we are proud to offer reliable, fair and accurate mineral rights valuations driven by engineering, geology and drill timing. Our team of experts is pleased to maintain genuine relationships at every business level, including prominent executive teams and large ranchers. Our goal is to do what is right, not what is easy. We are a Wyoming-based company dedicated to keeping your minerals at home in the Cowboy State.