T.L. Headley, West Virginia Coal Association.
Coal production in the US rose sharply for the week ending July 11. Meanwhile the decline from last year continues to expand according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the week.
Production in the US jumped by 2.3 million short t (16%) to finish the week at 16.40 million short t compared to last week’s total of 14.12 million short t. Meanwhile, production for the week is off by 1.9 million short t (11%) from the 18.26 million short t for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains down as of 11 July, coming in at 475.4 million short t compared to 518.3 million short t last year – a decline of 434.85 million short t or 8.4%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also trended lower, finishing at 951.53 million short t compared to 985.08 million short t for the same period ending in 2014 (-3.2%).
Mirroring the coal production, the number of coal railcar loadings increased, finishing the week up 14.95% from the previous week, however, loadings are down sharply compared to the 2014 (-11%). Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.3% from the same period in 2014.
Coal export/import data for May shows exports of metallurgical coal continues to trend lower – off 1.9% from 2014 at 4.55 million short t. Meanwhile exports of thermal coal are off by 27.5% to 2.21 million short t. Imports of coal have also fallen – down 28.2% to just 919 000. In terms of cumulative exports year-to-date, shipments of metallurgical coal have fallen by 14.6% compared to 2014 and thermal exports have fallen 22.4%. Imports of coal have increased by 3.2% to 4.81 million short t of coal.
Electric output was down 2% compared to the same week in 2014, with 85.05 MWh of electricity produced compared to 86.74 MWh produced for the same period last year.
Domestic steel output, however, continued it’s near freefall this week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was down 9.1% for the week, at 1.74 million short t, with a capacity utilisation factor of 72.8%, compared to the same week in 2014. And steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 7.6% to 46.99 million short t produced compared to 50.88 million short t for the same period last year.
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported higher production for the past week compared to the previous week, but all remain down sharply compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.28 million short t, up from 3.76 million short t last week (+13.8%). Interior Basin production also finished up at 3.16 million short t compared to 2.71 million short t last week (+17%). Western production finished the week at 8.96 million short t from 7.69 million short t last week (+16.5%). However, these numbers are sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 11.6% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 10.8% from 2014. And Western production is off 9.7% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 12.6%, the Interior Basin off 7.1% and the Western Basin down 6.7%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins are trending lower for the period ending 11 July, with the Appalachian Basin down 6.7%, the Interior Basin down 0.9% and the Western Region down 2.3%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 181.39 million short t from 183.00 million short t for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 249.31 million short t from 267.12 million short t. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 522.73 million short t from 534.96 million short t in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 47.6 million short t through 9 July. Of that total, 38.2 million short t was by underground operations and 9.4 million short t was produced by surface mining. A total of 110 mines are now reporting production through May 2015.
According to WV OMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has now dropped to 15 269 total miners, with 12 451 working underground and 2 818 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.
According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totalled 1.82 million short t compared to 1.59 million short t for the previous week (+14.5%). However, this is off by 11.4% from the same week in 2014.
Production increased in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week by 14.6% in the northern field and 13.4% in the southern coalfields. Production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.1% and 17.8% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending 11 July was also up sharply compared to the previous week but remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.2 million short t, up from 1.06 million short t last week but down from the 1.42 million short t for the same week in 2014. Both the eastern and western regions of Kentucky reported significant increases in production from the previous week but the state continues to see significant declines in both fields y/y. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 16.2%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 9.9% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting an 8.3% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 11.6% y/y.
Wyoming coal production was also up for the week, coming in at 6.52 million short t compared to 5.58 million short t the previous week, but down from the 7.21 million short t produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 9.6%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 1.9%.Illinois production was up finishing the week at 1.08 million short t compared to 921 000 short t last week. However, Illinois production is up by 13.6% for the previous 52 weeks. Indiana production is up as well, coming in at 621 000 short t compared to 539 000 short t for the week in 2014. Indiana production is also down by 6.2% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week also finished up, to just 1.02 million short t versus 899 000 short t for the previous week, but production in the Keystone State is now down slightly (0.4%) for the previous 52 weeks.
Ohio production also finished higher at 338 000 short t compared to 302 000 short t the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 13.3% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production increased this week to 224 000 short t compared to 199 000 short t for last week. Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 14.4%.
Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal added 10 cents to US$54.90/short t or US$2.20/million Btu. Northern Appalachian coal fell by almost US$5/short t to come in at US$53.20/short t or US$2.05/million Btu. Illinois Basin coal fell by more than US$6/short t to close at US$34.35/short t or US$1.46/million Btu, while Powder River Basin coal fell by 55 cents a ton to close at US$11.55/short t or US$0.66/million Btu, and Uinta Basin coal prices held steady at US$39.35/short t or US$1.68/million Btu.
Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal was trading at US$41.03/short t, while Western Rail was selling at US$10.05/short t and Eastern Rail was selling at US$42.06/short t.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub finished the week down, at US$2.75/million Btu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 91 billion ft3 compared to the previous week, for a total of 2.67 trillion ft3 in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count remained at 863 from last week and down by 1012 rigs from a year ago – down 54%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.
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.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/coal/20072015/us-coal-production-rises-for-the-week-ending-11-july-2015-2585/