U.S. coal exports continued to decline from record volumes in 2012, according to an EIA report out today.
In the first half of 2014, U.S. coal exports were at 52.3 million short tons (MMst), down 16% from the export levels in the first half of 2013. The EIA attributes the drop to reduced demand for steam coal from Europe and Asia, combined with increased supply from Australia and Indonesia and increases in metallurgical coal supply from Australia, Canada and Russia.
Metallurgical coal production, primarily from the Illinois and Appalachian coal basins, represented less than 8% of overall production but 56% of total U.S. coal exports in 2013. Europe is the leading destination for metallurgical coal exports, followed by Asia. Together, these two regions accounted for nearly 80% of U.S. metallurgical coal exports in the first half of 2014.
Steam coal, used to generate electricity, but with applications at combined heat and power plants to produce steam used in industrial processes, accounted for more than 90% of domestic coal production. “During the first half of 2014, Europe received 8.8 MMst of U.S. steam coal exports, a drop of 7.4 MMst from the same period in 2013. Asia’s share of U.S. steam coal exports increased in 2014, but export tonnage to Asia decreased 2.4% from the first half of 2013,” the EIA reported.
In 2013, six U.S. ports shipped 89% of U.S. coal. Fifty-five percent shipped from Baltimore and Norfolk, while Houston, Mobile and New Orleans shipped 30%. Seattle accounted for 4%. Eastern and southern ports generally export metallurgical coal from the Illinois and Appalachian Basins.
Weekly average coal prices for the week ended September 26 were $54.50 per short ton for Southern Appalachia, $63.30 for Northern Appalachia, $43.40 for Illinois Basin, $11.25 for Powder River Basin and $37.00 for Uinta Basin coal.
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