Unlike the metals, the varying ranks of coal as well as mine-specific quality prevent coal from trading like a .9999-purity LME metal. Moreover, even otherwise sophisticated, big-time venture capitalists can stumble when investing in coal. Consultant friends of the writer have been called in to salvage as much of the original investment as possible when the unexpected occurred. And the U.S. industry faces potential new regulatory strictures that could have major capital--as well as productivity and operating cost--implications totalling into the billions of dollars.
Moving early and fast into unconventional U.S. shale gas plays is paying big dividends for Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its shareholders. Management last week announced a $1.75 billion asset sale with BP, part of a shift in management's strategic plans.