By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MAT, MA
CHARLESTON, W.Va — Coal production in the U.S. continued to decline this past week according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) and the National Mining Association.
Production in the United States is down by slightly less than 1.6 million tons (7.9%) for the week ending March 21 compared to the same time last year. Production for the week stood at 18.18 million tons compared to 19.75 million tons for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date is also down as of March 21 coming in at 210.86 million tons compared to 216.88 million tons last year.
Rail car loadings also continued to decline, down 6.5% for the week from the same period last year. Rail car loadings are also down 1.9% year-to-date.
Coal export data was not updated this week.
Electric output was down for the week – by 3.3% for the week ending March 21 – and is down slightly (-0.4%) year-to-date. Steel output declined again for the week, down 12.3% for the week to just 1.64 million tons produced and it continues its slide year-to-date — down to 19.91 million tons produced compared to 20.98 million tons last year. A decline in steel production is considered a leading indicator of the broader economy and the continued declines we are seeing in steel production usually translate into declines in durable goods orders.
Looking at regional coal production, Appalachian Basin production was down slightly for the week – at 4.98 million tons from 5.06 million tons the previous week. Interior Basin production was also down for the week – coming in at 3.41 million tons from 3.47 million tons last week. Western production also declined this week, to 9.80 million tons from 9.98 million tons last week.
The Interior and Western Basins continued to show increased production for the previous 52 weeks ending March 21st. Production in the Appalachian Basin turned down slightly for the 52-week period — to 267.63 million tons from 268.07 million tons in 2014. Interior Basin production increased by1.7%, to 185.49 million tons from 182.88 million tons for the same period ending in 2014. Meanwhile, Western production was up 1.0%, to 534.95 million tons from 529.79 million tons in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, coal production in the state for 2015 (reported through March 19, 2015) stands at 15.16 million tons year-to-date, with 11.73 million tons produced underground and 3.42 million tons produced through surface operations (we are uncertain as to the reason for the discrepancy). A total of 121 mines in the state are now reporting production in January.
Production for other key coal-producing states is being reported once again by the EIA.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending March 21 ticked down to 1.42 million tons compared to 1.44 for the same week in 2014, with the state seeing declines in both its eastern and western fields. Meanwhile, coal production in Kentucky is off by 2.2% for the previous 52 weeks.
Wyoming coal production also ticked down for the week to 7.1 million tons, off from 7.2 million tons for the same week in 2014. For the year, Wyoming production is up slightly (0.1%).
Illinois production is also down slightly for the week, coming in at 1.05 million tons compared to 1.06 for the same period in 2014. Indiana production, likewise, is down slightly, coming in at 723,000 tons compared to 736,000 tons for the week in 2014. Pennsylvania production for the week is also down slightly, to 1.22 million tons versus 1.25 million tons for the same week in 2014, but is up 11.5% for the previous 52 weeks. Ohio production is off slightly — to 389,000 tons compared to 396,000 tons in 2014. Virginia production turned down this week – to 288,000 tons compared to 293,000 tons last week, but is off substantially compared to the same week in 2014, which saw production of 332,000 tons. Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 7 percent.
Coal prices on the spot market held firm again this week. Central Appalachian coal remains at $53.06 per ton. Northern Appalachian coal remains at $61.15 per ton. Illinois Basin coal prices held at $40.32 per ton, while Powder River Basin and Uinta Basin coal prices also held steady – at $11.55 and $38.13 per ton respectively.
Due to an error, natural gas prices on the Henry Hub were incorrectly reported last week to be approximately $3.20 per million Btu. The correct price was $2.68 per million Btu. This week, natural gas prices rose slightly to $2.72 per million Btu. Natural gas producers continued to report significant declines in their stored reserves – off 45 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week. Most of the decline came in the eastern fields. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count came in at 1048, with 462 of these operating in Texas. This number includes working in both oil and gas plays.
Utilities did not issue updates to their stockpile reports once again this week.
BakerHughes Rig Count at http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=79687&p=irol-rigcountsoverview
U.S. Energy Information Agency Weekly Coal Report at http://www.eia.gov/coal/production/weekly/tables/weekly_production.cfm.
West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training at http://www.wvminesafety.org/
Henry Hub Natural Gas Price Data from USEIA at http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/rngwhhdm.htm.
EIA U.S. Electric Production Report at http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_1_01