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US coal production maintains higher levels

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World Coal,

US coal production for the week ending 6 August was 15.6 million short t, according to initial estimates from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is down slightly on last week’s but still above the year-to-date average of 12.7 million short t as coal demand remains high on warm summer weather and rising natural gas prices.

Regionally, coal production in the Western Region (which includes the Powder River Basin (PRB) remained over 2 million short t above the weekly year-to-date average at 9.3 million short – only slightly down on the previous week.

Wyoming – the largest coal producing state in the US and at the heart of the PRB – accounted for a significant chunk of that increase, recording weekly production of 6.8 million short t compared to a year-to-date average of 5.4 million t.

Production in Appalachia and the Interior Region also remained well above their year-to-date averages at 3.6 million short t and 3.0 million short t, respectively. This compares to average production this year of 3.0 million short t in Appalachia and 2.4 million short t in the Interior Region.

US year-to-date production totalled 405.8 million short t at the end of the week, 25.4% lower than the previous week, an improvement on the 30.9% fall in year-to-date production registered in early April.

Looking ahead, US coal companies are increasingly positive that demand will strengthen through the back-end of the year.

“Increasing natural gas prices and a warm start to the summer are beginning to improve the overall outlook towards the coal industry,” said Cloud Peak’s President and CEO, Colin Marshall, in a recent earnings release. “After very low shipments in April and May, we started to see improved shipments in June and are optimistic this trend will continue during the second half of the year.

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