EIA estimates annual US coal burn, supply to drop; exports to increase

Washington (Platts)--9Jul2013/350 pm EDT/1950 GMT


The US Energy Information Administration revised slightly downward its annual estimate of US coal burn and production, but increased its estimate of US exports for the year, according to the monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook released Tuesday.

The agency estimates US coal consumption will total 950 million short tons in 2013, down 0.4% compared with its June estimate. The new July estimate marks a 6.7% increase from 2012 consumption of 890 million st, which the agency attributed to higher electricity demand and higher natural gas prices.

In addition, the agency estimates US coal consumption in 2014 will total 966 million st, a 0.4% drop from its previous June estimate of 970 million st.

The EIA estimates US coal production will total 1,017 million st in 2013, a 0.4% drop from its June estimate of 1,021 million st, but a 0.1% increase from 2012 production of 1,016 million st.

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The agency said inventory draws and a small increase in coal imports met most of the growth in consumption in 2013.

For 2014, the agency estimates US coal production will total 1,050 million st, a 0.4% drop from its June estimate of 1,054 million st, but higher than years past as inventories stabilize in the face of increased consumption.

According to the agency, US coal exports are likely to increase in 2013 to 112 million st, a 1.8% increase from its June estimate of 110 million st. The July estimate is a 11.1% drop compared with the record US exports of 126 million st in 2012.

In 2014, the EIA estimates US coal exports will total 108 million st, a 0.9% increase from its June estimate of 107 million st.

The agency did not cite a reason for its increased export estimates.

The agency also revised downward its estimates of US power generation from coal in 2013, to 40.1% from its previous June estimate of 40.2%. The agency also revised its 2014 estimate to 40.1% from 40.2% as reported in June.

The US generated 37.4% of its power from coal in 2012.

The agency said the increased coal burn is due to generators running their existing coal plants at higher capacity in response to the increased cost of natural gas relative to coal.

The EIA's estimates of US coal prices per MMBtu remained unchanged from June, at $2.36/MMBtu in 2013 and $2.40/MMBtu in 2014. The 2013 price of $2.36/MMBtu is the lowest average annual coal price since 2000, according to the agency.

In 2012, US coal prices were $2.40/MMBtu, said the agency.

--Andrew Moore, andrew.moore@platts.com --Edited by Katharine Fraser, katharine.fraser@platts.com

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