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Short term outlook for US coal

World Coal,

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has revised downwards its projection for US coal consumption in 2013 although it still expects demand to increase compared to last year.

Coal supply

Coal production for the first three quarters of 2013 was estimated to total 752 million short t, 15 million short t lower than the same period in 2012. The EIA projects a total coal production figure of 1012 million short t by the end of the year. Coal production is expected to increase by 2.7% in 2014 to 1039 million short t as inventories stabilise and the consumption of coal across the US increases. Inventory draws of approximately 30 million short t are expected to meet most of the growth in consumption in 2013.

Coal consumption

The agency estimates that the total coal consumption for the first three quarters of the year was 700 million short t, 5.3% higher than the amount consumed over the same period last year. The increase was largely due to increased consumption in the electric power sector due to increased natural gas prices. The EIA expects total consumption of coal across the US for 2013 to reach 930 million short t, an increase of 4.4% from last year.

Coal exports

Estimates for exports for the first eight months of 2013 stand at 80 million short t, 9% lower than in the same period last year. The EIA predicts exports to total 118 million short t in 2013, a decrease of 7 million short t from 2012. Exports are projected to total 107 million short t in 2014. Continuing economic weakness in Europe, slowing Asian demand growth, increasing coal output in other coal exporting countries and falling international coal prices are the main reasons for the projected fall in coal exports from the US.

Coal prices

Finally, the EIA expects nominal annual average coal prices to the electric power industry to fall for the first time since 2000, from US$ 2.40 per million Btu in 2012 to US$ 2.34 per million Btu in 2013. The agency forecasts average coal prices of US$ 2.36 per million Btu next year.

To read the full ‘Short Term Energy Outlook’ report, please click here.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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