US coal exports are projected to fall 16% year on year to 89.5m tonnes in 2014 because of slowing international coal demand and increased production in other coal-exporting countries, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a short-term energy outlook report late on Tuesday.
This represents a sharp decline from the 95.3m tonnes of exports forecast in EIA’s January short-term outlook ( see CSD 13 January 2014 ).
Coal exports are now expected to fall a further 13% year on year to 86m tonnes in 2015. US coal exports have been declining since 2012 when they reached a record high at 114.0m tonnes.
Last week the EIA said that US steam coal exports to its top export destination Europe fell 40% year on year to 4.9m tonnes in the first quarter of 2014, from 8.2m tonnes exported in the same period in 2013 ( see CSD 2 July 2014 ). Total US thermal coal exports fell to 9.8m tonnes in the first quarter of 2014, down 20.5% from 12.3m tonnes exported in the same period in 2013.
The fall in exports was partially attributed to a fall in US coal stocks at power utilities. The EIA on Tuesday projected that stocks would average 112.2m tonnes in 2014, a quarter below the 148.8m tonne average stock level in 2013. Average stocks would then remain relatively low at 115.9m tonnes in 2015.
The EIA also forecast US coal consumption by the power sector to rise 3% year on year to 802,599 tonnes in 2014 before falling back to 775,293 tonne in 2015 – in line with the 778,740 tonnes consumed in 2013. The projected increase in consumption in 2014 is the result of a sharp rise in natural gas prices compared to 2013 and electricity demand growth. Stacy Irish