According to a recent report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US has remained a net exporter of coal in 2016, exporting 60.3 million short t and importing 9.8 million short t. US coal exports fell for the fourth consecutive year, down 13.7 million short t from 2015, with 2016 exports less than half of the record volume of coal exported in 2012 (125.7 million short t). Slow growth in world coal demand combined with supplier competition were the primary factors contributing to the decline in US coal exports.
The report noted that US coal exports declined through most of 2016 despite mid-year increases in international coal prices. Lower mining costs, cheaper transportation costs, and favourable exchange rates continue to provide a market advantage to other major coal-exporting countries, such as Australia, Indonesia, Colombia, Russia, and South Africa.
Nearly 80% of the coal exported by the US in 2016 went to 10 countries. Declining exports to 9 of those 10 countries accounted for two-thirds of the total drop in US exports. One of the few increases in 2016 was exports to Brazil, which increased by nearly 0.6 million short t. China and Morocco also received increased amounts of US coal, but continue to absorb only a small fraction of total U.S. coal exports.
US coal exports are mainly shipped from eight customs districts (ports defined by the US Census Bureau), which accounted for 95% of US coal exports in 2016. Norfolk, Virginia, the largest coal port, shipped 23.1 million short t of coal and accounted for 38% of total US coal exports.
US coal imports totalled 9.8 million short t in 2016, 13% lower than the 11.3 million short t imported in 2015 and the first decline in imports since 2013. The majority (90% in 2016) of coal imported into the US is thermal coal, which is primarily used to generate electricity. Colombia remained the predominant source of US coal imports, despite a decrease of 12% (1.0 million short t) in 2016. Metallurgical coal imports, primarily imported from Canada, fell by 44% (0.8 million short t) in 2016.
US coal imports are mainly offloaded at a few customs districts, with six districts receiving 90% of US imports in 2016. Tampa, Florida, remained the largest recipient of coal imports in 2016, though imports into Tampa and Mobile, Alabama, declined by 16% (0.6 million short t) and 17% (0.5 million short t), respectively, driven by declines in imports from Colombia. The Great Falls, Montana; Honolulu, Hawaii; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, customs districts were the only ones to see an increase in imports during 2016.
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Read the article online at: https://www.worldcoal.com/power/14032017/us-eia-coal-exports-and-imports-decline-in-2016/