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US coal production for week ending 19 April

Published by
World Coal,

T.L. Headley, West Virginia Coal Association.

Coal production in the US continued to decline this past week according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the National Mining Association.

Production in the US is down by slightly less than 1.5 million t (7.6%) for the week ending 11 April compared to the same time last year. Production for the week stood at 18.02 million t compared to 19.50 million t for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date also remained down as of 11 April coming in at 264.09 million t compared to 275.94 million t last year – a decline of 4.3%.

Rail car loadings also continued to decline, down 8.5% for the week from the same period last year, and they are down 3.5% year-to-date.

Electric output was up – by 0.7% for the week ending 11 April – and is down slightly (-0.4%) year-to-date. Steel output declined again for the week, down 12.0% for the week to just 1.62 million t produced and it continues its slide year-to-date — down 6.7% to 24.77 million t produced compared to 26.54 million t last year. As noted previously, a decline in steel production is considered a leading indicator of the broader economy and the continued declines we are seeing in steel production usually translate into declines in durable goods orders.

Looking at regional coal production, Appalachian Basin production was up for the week – at 4.94 million t from 4.76 million t the previous week. Interior Basin production was down for the week – settling at 3.40 million t from 3.27 million t last week. Western production finished slightly higher this week, to 9.68 million t from 9.38 million t last week.

The Interior and Western Basins continued to show increased production for the previous 52 weeks ending 4 April, up 1.3% and 0.7% respectively. Meanwhile, production in the Appalachian Basin is down 1.9% for the 52-week period — to 263.53 million t from 268.51 million t in 2014. Interior Basin production increased to 185.81 million t from 183.48 million t for the same period ending in 2014. Meanwhile, Western production is up to 535.88 million t from 579.29 million t in 2014.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, coal production in the state for 2015 (reported through 9 April, 2015) stands at 21.46 million t year-to-date, with 16.82 million t produced underground and 4.64 million t produced through surface operations. The number of mines reporting production in February increased to 113. The number of mines reporting production is subject to change as additional reports are submitted. The number of active miners working fell again, down to 15 585 from 15 604 last week. Underground operations had 12 686 direct mining employees while surface operations dropped to just 2899 employees. Again, we expect those numbers to change with additional reports.

Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending 11 April ticked down to 1.39 million t compared to 1.58 for the same week in 2014, with the state seeing declines in both its eastern and western fields.

Meanwhile, coal production in Kentucky is off by 4.2% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky fields reporting production declines of 4.8% and eastern Kentucky operations reporting declines of 3.6%.

Wyoming coal production also ticked down for the week to 6.99 million t, off from 7.49 million t for the same week in 2014. For the year, Wyoming production is unchanged. Illinois production is also up slightly for the week, coming in at 1.10 million t compared to 1.08 for the same period in 2014. Indiana production is down, coming in at 693 000 t compared to 765 000 t for the week in 2014. Pennsylvania production for the week is also down slightly, to 1.22 million t versus 1.39 million t for the same week in 2014, but is up 10.3% for the previous 52 weeks. Ohio production is off as well — dropping to 397 000 t compared to 500 000 t in 2014. Virginia production was also off this week – to 261 000 t compared to 313 000 t for the same week in 2014. Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 11.1%.

Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal fell to US$52.88 per t. Northern Appalachian coal likewise, fell to US$60.92 per t. Illinois Basin coal prices ticked up to US$40.77 per t, while Powder River Basin coal held steady at US$11.55 per t and Uinta Basin coal prices jumped by US$1.69 to US$39.82 per t.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub ticked up to US$2.69 per million Btu. Natural gas producers reported an increase in their stored reserves – up 15 billion ft3 compared to the previous week. Eastern fields reported a decline of 22 billion ft3 while all other fields saw increased gas in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count dropped sharply to 988, from 1021 last week and 1831 a year ago. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

Utilities did not issue updates to their stockpile reports once again this week.

Written by T.L. Headley. Edited by Harleigh Hobbs. This article first appeared in the WV Coal Seam blog of the West Virginia Coal Association

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