Wyoming’s Energy Resources
Wyoming is a leader for energy in the United States. In 2013, the state was first in coal production, first in uranium production, fifth in natural gas, and eighth in crude oil. Wyoming also has potential for alternative forms of energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal.
Wyoming’s geologic setting – along with ideal conditions of heat, pressure, and time – has led to the creation of large reservoirs of oil and natural gas found within the strata of the state’s basins. Vast reserves of coal also underlie the state, and Wyoming has the largest uranium reserves in the United States.
WSGS geologists with a focus on energy resources, conduct scientific investigations, map energy development, and document the production of oil and natural gas, coal, and uranium in the state, with the aim to provide knowledge of these resources to a variety of audiences, from policy-makers to the general public.
All together, Wyoming produces about 10 quadrillion Btus (British thermal units) of energy each year. This energy is primarily used to provide the United States with electricity. Mineral royalties, severance, and related taxes provide a substantial portion of the state’s revenues.
- Per capita, Wyoming is the biggest energy producer in the country.
- Wyoming is the most prolific coal-producing state in the United States, providing nearly 40 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of coal.
- The North Antelope-Rochelle Mine Complex is the world's largest coal mine by reserves, at 2.1 billion tons of mineable coal.
- In May 2013, Wyoming produced its 10 billionth ton of coal over the 150-year history of coal mining in the state.
- The continuous growth of coal production in Wyoming is the result of national demand for low-cost, low-sulfer steam-coal.
- Wyoming is the top producer of uranium in the country with the largest known reserves in the U.S.
- According to Energy Information Administration data, Wyoming employs about 46 percent of the nation’s uranium workforce, or 531 employees.
- In 2013, Campbell County was Wyoming’s leading producer of crude oil (13.0 million barrels), followed by Converse (8.0 million barrels) and Park (6.7 million barrels) counties.
- Wyoming produced 2.1 billion MCF of natural gas in 2013, down from 2.2 billion MCF in 2012.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Wyoming’s Geologic History
Wyoming is known for its abundance of energy sources. Vast reserves of oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium underlie many areas of the state. Ancient seas once covered what is now Wyoming and were the beginnings of the formation of our energy resources used today. Seas expanded and retreated numerous times over millions of years, leaving behind organic matter from plant and animal life. Continental river systems and adjacent shoreline and shallow marine sediments interacted to form and preserve Wyoming’s large basins, which accumulated hydrocarbon deposits. Under ideal geologic conditions of pressure and temperature in the subsurface, these accumulations matured to form as coal, oil, and natural gas deposits and were then preserved.
The source of uranium deposits in Wyoming is thought to have originated by hydrothermal activity, whereby a cooling magma chamber heated the upper portions of the Earth’s crust and the fluids in it. The heat circulated the fluids and enriched them with uranium and other elements, and ultimately those elements were deposited in veins, cracks, and fissures, etc. There is also the theory that after a time when Wyoming was covered in volcanic ash (occurring many times in the past 30 million years), radioactive minerals were deposited in Wyoming’s basins. This episode of erosion and deposition was an ideal setting for the concentration and formation of Wyoming’s uranium ore deposits.