US' Consol Energy says Q3 coal production exceeds guidance

Galax, Virginia (Platts)--15 Oct 2013 319 pm EDT/1919 GMT

US coal and gas producer Consol Energy said Tuesday that its third-quarter coal production, at 14.5 million short tons, exceeded previous guidance by as much as 1.1 million st.

This production was achieved despite "operational challenges" at the Pittsburgh-based miner's Pennsylvania operations earlier this year, Consol said in a statement released before the opening of markets.

In late July, structural failure in a newly installed belt system between the preparation plant and associated coal mines caused the suspension of longwall production from Consol's Bailey and Enlow Fork longwall mines, which produced a combined 19.6 million short tons last year of Pittsburgh-seam coal.

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Normal production resumed in mid-August, Consol said.

In Q3, Consol's production included 1.1 million st of low-vol coking coal from the company's Buchanan mine in Virginia.

All told, Q3's 14.5 million st exceeded Consol's earlier production guidance of 13.4 million-13.9 million st.

As of September 30, Consol's total coal inventory increased by 158,000 st to 1,075,000 st, the company said. Thermal coal inventory increased by 198,000 st to 971,000 st, while low-vol coal inventory decreased by 40,000 st to 104,000 st.

Consol said it expects Q4 2013 coal production to be between 13.6 million and 14 million st, and total 2013 coal production of between 56.7 million-57.1 million st.

Buchanan, Consol's primary low-vol met coal producer, is expected to yield Q4 production of between 700,000-900,000 st and total 2013 production of between 4.3 million-4.5 million st, the company said.

Of Consol's BMX coal mine expansion in southwestern Pennsylvania, Consol said the Pittsburgh-seam project "remains on track to come online in April of 2014, bringing 5 million additional high-BTU tons, with crossover capacity that can be sold into the thermal or high-vol markets."

Regarding its natural gas operations, Consol said it produced 46.1 Bcfe in Q3, or 17% more than the 39.5 Bcfe produced in the 2012 third quarter. Q3 production guidance had been 43-45 Bcfe.

The Q3 production included 491,000 Mcf/d of natural gas, 397 b/d of oil/condensates and 1,340 b/d of NGLs.

Consol expects its Q4 gas production to be between 46-48 Bcfe, "which, using the midpoint of the range, would be a 12% increase as compared with the 41.8 Bcfe produced in Q4 2012," the company said.

Consol expects annual production of about 170-172 Bcfe, within the company's earlier 2013 guidance of 170-175 Bcfe, Consol said.

For 2014, Consol expects gas production guidance to remain unchanged at 210-225 Bcfe, "which represents a 22%-30% growth rate over the midpoint of the 2013 forecast," the company said.

Consol said it will announce Q3 results on October 31, adding that "net income is likely to be a loss for the quarter."

--Steve Hooks,
--Edited by Katharine Fraser,

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