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US coal production continued to decline for week ending 23 May

Published by
World Coal,


T.L. Headley, West Virginia Coal Association.

Production in the US is down by 2.98 million short t for the week ending 23 May compared to the same time last year. Production for the week stood at 16.05 million short t compared to 19.03 million short t for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date is also down sharply, coming in at 363.84 million short t compared to 390.46 million short t last year – a decline of 26.62 million short t or 6.8%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also trended lower – finishing at 970.55 million short t compared to 986.90 million short t for the same period in 2014 (-1.7%).

The number of railcar loadings declined sharply, finishing the week down 16.8% from the same period last year. Railcar loadings are also down sharply year-to-date – off 6.6% from the same period in 2014.

Electric output data was not updated this week.

Domestic steel output saw a rise for the week. According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic steel production was up 1.6% for the week with a capacity utilisation factor of 73.3%. However steel production continues its slide year-to-date, declining 7.2% to 34.94 million short t produced compared to 37.65 million short t for the same period last year. As noted in previous reports, production is a strong indicator of the status of the broader economy and the continued declines point to declines in durable goods orders and a softening of the national economy in the near- to mid-term.In terms of regional coal production, all three basins reported slight increases in week-on-week production. The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.40 million short t, up from 3.99 million short t last week. Interior Basin production also finished up slightly at 3.027 million short t compared to 3.023 million short t last week. Western production finished the week at 8.63 million short t from 8.61 million short t last week. However, all three basins continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 8.3%, the Interior Basin off 6.1% and the Western Basin down 6.3%.

Looking at the previous 52 weeks, Appalachian and Western Basin production continued to be down for the period ending 23 May, declining 3.7% and 1.3% respectively. Meanwhile production in the Interior Basin was up 0.1% for the period — increasing slightly to 183.77 million short t from 183.54 million short t for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 258.44 million short t from 268.24 million short t. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 528.34 million short t from 535.11 million short t in 2014.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, coal production in the state for 2015 (reported through 21 May 2015) stands at 34.18 million short t year-to-date, with 27.40 million short t produced underground and 6.78 million short t produced through surface operations. The number of mines reporting production increased by one to 126. The number of mines reporting production is subject to change as additional reports are submitted. The number of active miners working, however, decreased, coming in at 15 465 compared to 15 512 last week. Underground operations had 12 576 direct mining employees, while surface operations fell to 2 889 employees. These numbers are also expected to change with additional reports.

Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending 23 May remained essentially unchanged from the previous week. However production was off significant from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.24 compared to 1.54 million short t for the same week in 2014, with the state seeing significant declines in both its eastern and western fields y/y. Year-to-date, production in Kentucky is off by 9.7%.Meanwhile, coal production in Kentucky is off by 5.8% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting a 5.7% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 6.0% year-over-year.

Wyoming coal production increased slightly for the week compared to 2014, coming in at 6.23 million short t, compared to 6.22 million short t the previous week. However that is off substantially from the 7.18 million short t produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 15.7%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 1.9%. Illinois production also finished sharply lower for the week, coming in at 983 000 short t compared to 1.05 million short t for the same period in 2014. Indiana production is down as well, coming in at 618 000 short t compared to 747 000 short t for the week in 2014. Pennsylvania production for the week is also down sharply to 1.09 million short t versus 1.21 million short t for the same week in 2014, but remains up 7.0% for the previous 52 weeks. Ohio production is off as well — dropping to 354 000 short t compared to 488 000 short t in 2014. Virginia production was also off this week – to 232 000 short t compared to 306 000 short t for the same week in 2014. Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 12.5%.

Coal prices on the spot market were unchanged this week. Central Appalachian coal held at US$52.85/short t or US$2.11/million Btu. Northern Appalachian coal held at US$60.90/short t or US$2.34/million Btu. Illinois Basin coal prices were firm at US$40.45/short t or US$1.73/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 were unchanged at US$39.30/short t or US$1.70/million Btu.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub finished the week up 11 cents to US$2.99/million Btu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 112 billion ft3 compared to the previous week, for a total of 2.1 trillion ft3 in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count remained at 885, down from 1860 a year ago. 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/mining/02062015/us-coal-production-continued-to-decline-for-week-ending-23-may-2351/


 

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