Uncertainty rules in coal country as Cloud Peak, Blackjewel and Whiting struggle

(KPAX) BILLINGS – Bankrupt coal company Cloud Peak energy has been granted a one-week delay for the auction and sale of two coal mines in Wyoming.

The Cloud Peak sale will occur Thursday August 8, to pay for outstanding debt. The company will try to cover about $400 million in debt. Cloud Peak filed for bankruptcy in May.

The future of the coal company Blackjewel remains uncertain at this hour. A bankruptcy court is deciding whether to approve the sale to Contura Energy.

Hundreds of employees at two Wyoming mines lost their job July 1st when Blackjewel declared bankruptcy. Hundreds of miners in West Virginia and Kentucky are also affected by the bankruptcy.

This week miners blocked the tracks of a coal train in Kentucky for two days as part of a standoff Blackjewel. Nearly 400 workers have been without work and pay for a month.

A big oil and natural gas player in the Bakken oil patch, Whiting Petroleum, announced a surprise second quarter loss. They reacted with a work force reduction of 254 employees. It’s not known how many jobs in the region will be affected.

Whiting reports a lack of infrastructure to move natural gas as part of the reason for the decline.