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US coal stockpiles expected to rebuild after winter

World Coal,

According to the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), coal stockpiles at electric power plants experienced a deep drawdown this winter, dropping 24% between November 2013 and February 2014, from 156 million t to 119 million t.

One of the main reasons for this reduction was increased electricity demand due to a colder than normal winter. Total US net electricity generation was 5.3% higher this winter than last winter, with 59% of the increase supplied by coal generation. Coal generation was up 8% year-on-year, an increase of 40 000 gigawatt hours.

Coal rail deliveries

The EIA also noted that coal deliveries by rail were lower than normal. Total coal railcar loadings were between 9% and 15% below the five-year average levels from November 2013 to February 2014.

Coal railcar loadings hit a low in February at just over 100 000 carloads for the week ending 8 February 2014. However, coal railcar loadings have rebounded considerably since February. As a result, year-to-date, coal railcar loadings are now 0.5% ahead of where they were at this time last year as severe cold weather has abated and rail service has improved.

Coal stockpiles

The recent increase in railcar loadings, combined with traditionally lower electricity demand during March and April (and May, if weather conditions remain mild), is an indication that coal stockpiles should improve before the peak electricity demand season during the summer.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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