Thursday, April 21, 2016

US coal production rises 8% in a week

TORONTO ( – US coal output climbed 8.2% in the week ended April 16 to about 11.1-million short tons, the latest data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed Thursday. 

However, despite the short-term bump, production was down 35% year-on-year, when the country’s total output stood at about 17-million tons. 

Record-low natural gas prices and high inventories are expected to keep a lid on thermal coal prices until at least the second half of 2017. This year would in all likelihood be the first year ever that natural gas would overtake coal as the primary energy source for electricity generation in the US. 

US coal miners had been dealing with increasing pressure from stricter pollution controls, falling demand from China and increasing competition from natural gas. Falling prices and tighter legislation have wreaked havoc on the North American coal industry in recent years, forcing major players such as Arch Coal, Walter Coal, Patriot Coal and Alpha Natural Resources to file for bankruptcy. 

According to the EIA, coal output totalled 4.2-million tons east of the Mississippi river, while the western region was estimated to have produced 6.8-million tons. So far this year, US coal miners produced 189.6-million tons, 32.5% lower than the comparable year-to-date coal output in 2015

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