T.L. Headley, West Virginia Coal Association
Coal production in the US continued its recovery this week, up just short of 1 million short t over the previous week. However production continues to be down from last year — off 12.2% (18.5 million short t), according to the latest report from the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the week ending 20 June.
Production in the US rose by 926 000 short t (6.1%) to finish the week at 16.28 million short t compared to last week’s total of 15.36 million short t. Production for the week, however, is off by 2.07 million short t (12.2%) from the 18.54 million short t for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date is also down sharply as of 20 June, coming in at 425.67 million short t compared to 464.24 million short t last year – a decline of 38.53 million short t or 8.5%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also trended lower – finishing at 957.82 million short t compared to 984.70 million short t for the same period ending in 2014 (-2.5%).
The number of railcar loadings remains down sharply, finishing the week off 13.3% from the same period last year. Railcar loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 8.5% from the same period in 2014. However, coal railcar loadings were up 6%, or 5401 carloads, from the previous week, breaking a streak of three straight weeks where volumes were below 90 000 carloads.
Coal export/import data was not updated this week.
Electric output was up 1.4% compared to the same week in 2014. With 84.97 MWh of electricity produced compared to 83.79 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 8.8% for the week, at 1.72 million t, with a capacity utilisation factor of 73%, compared to the same week in 2014. And steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 7.4% to 41.84 million short t produced compared to 45.17 million short t for the same period last year. The continuing slide in domestic steel production is fueled by a sluggish economy, as well as increased imports of steel, much of it from China and South Korea.
In terms of regional coal production, all three basins reported significant increases in production over the past week compared to the previous week; however, all remain down sharply compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.46 million short t, ticking up from 4.2 million short t last week (up 6%). Interior Basin production also finished up at 3.07 million short t compared to 2.9 million short t last week (up 5%). Western production finished the week at 8.75 million short t from 8.25 million short t last week (up 6%). However, these numbers are sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 16% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 9.2% from 2014. And Western production is off 11.7% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 10.2%, the Interior Basin off 7.4% and the Western Basin down 7.9%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins are trending lower for the period ending 20 June, with the Appalachian Basin down 4.8%, the Interior Basin down 0.6% and the Western Region down 2.5%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 181.84 million short t from 182.86 million short t for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 254.26 million short t from 266.94 million short t. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 521.73 million short t from 534.91 million short t in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training (OMHST), coal production in the state now stands at 43.35 million short t through 23 June. Of that total, 34.78 million short t was by underground operations and 8.57 million short t was produced by opencast mining. A total of 111 mines are now reporting production through April 2015.
According to the OMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has now dropped to 15 373 total miners, with 12 517 working underground and 2856 working on opencast operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.
According to the EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 1.86 million short t compared to 1.76 million short t for the previous week. However, this is off by 15.5% from the same week in 2014.? Production rose slightly in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by 6% in both areas; however year-to-date, production is off by 3.2% and 16.2% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending 20 June was also up slightly compared to the previous week but remains down sharply from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.25 million short t compared to 1.18 million short t last week and 1.50 million short t for the same week in 2014. Both the eastern and western regions of Kentucky reported solid increases in production over the previous week; however the state continues to see significant declines in both fields y/y. Year-to-date, production in Kentucky is off by 11.6%. Meanwhile, production in the state is off by 6.8% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting a 6.2% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 7.8% y/y.
Wyoming coal production was up for the week compared to 2014, coming in at 6.32 million short t, compared to 5.96 million short t the previous week, but was down from the 7.12 million short t produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 11.3%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 3%. Illinois production remains down, finishing the week at 997 000 short t compared to 1.03 million short t last year. Indiana production is down as well, coming in at 627 000 short t compared to 728 000 short t for the week in 2014. Pennsylvania production for the week finished down slightly, to 1.1 million short t versus 1.18 million short t for the same week in 2014, but remains up 4.9% for the previous 52 weeks. Ohio production is off as well – at 359 000 short t compared to 476 000 short t in 2014. Ohio coal production is off 12.8% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production was also off this week – to 236 000 short t compared to 298 000 short t for the same week in 2014. Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 13.3%.
Coal prices on the spot market were unchanged this week. Central Appalachian coal held at US$52.75/ short t or US$2.11/million Btu. Northern Appalachian coal held at US$58.75/short t or US$2.26/million Btu. Illinois Basin coal prices held at US$40.45/short t or US$1.71/million Btu, while Powder River Basin coal remained steady at US$11.55/short t or US$0.66/million Btu, and Uinta Basin coal prices held firm at US$39.20/short t or US$1.66/million Btu.Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal was trading at US$41.13/short t, while Western Rail was selling at US$10.09/short t and Eastern Rail was selling at US$40.78/short t.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub finished the week up slightly at US$2.90/million Btu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 111 billion ft3 compared to the previous week, for a total of 2.43 trillion ft3 in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count remained at 857, down by two from last week and by 1001 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/29062015/us-coal-production-for-the-week-ending-20-june-2483/