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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 65 (1981)

Issue: 8. (August)

First Page: 1498

Last Page: 1498

Title: Lignite Development and Utilization in Mid-Continent Region: ABSTRACT

Author(s): C. G. Groat

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Until recently, the Mid-Continent region, with large supplies of oil and gas, had little incentive to exploit lignite, a low-grade coal of Tertiary age. Increasing prices for natural gas and the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act changed this situation in the 1970s and today we find major utility use of lignite as a boiler fuel in Texas, development beginning in Louisiana, and considerable interest by utilities in Arkansas. The greatest lignite reserve base in the Mid-Continent area is in Texas with 8.6 to 11.1 billion short tons of near-surface lignite reserves, followed by Arkansas with 2.5 billion and Louisiana with 1.1 billion tons.

The first use of lignite in the modern era of lignite development occurred in Texas in 1954 near Rockdale where it was developed as a boiler fuel for electricity generation in connection with aluminum refining operations. In 1971, Texas Utilities opened a major lignite-fired generating station near Fairfield, Texas, followed by two other large mines and generating stations in east Texas by the same company and announcements of additional mines by Texas Utilities and others. Development of lignite will begin in Louisiana in 1981. Five mines are planned in northwest Louisiana for the mid-1980s with Phillips Coal Co. the largest lignite reserve holder in the Gulf Coast area, responsible for the two largest mines. Three of the mines will be developed for electricity generation, two will b for industrial use of lignite. Firm commitments to lignite use in Arkansas are pending with Arkansas Power and Light Co. the closest to opting for lignite use. All current operations and announced developments rely on surface mining techniques; most are classic drag-line area-stripping operations.

Many large blocks of near-surface lignite reserves in Texas and Louisiana have been committed to use for power generation. Use for gasification is under consideration by Exxon at a large deposit near Troup, Texas. Pilot in-situ gasification projects have been conducted in Texas to develop methods for extracting lignite too deep to mine.

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