Commodity/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2   Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2  $ 52.88  $ 2.12
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3.0  $ 60.92  $ 2.34
Illinois Basin 11,800 5.0  $ 40.77  $ 1.73
Powder River Basin   8,800 0.8  $ 11.55  $ 0.66
Uinta Basin  11,700 0.8  $ 39.82  $ 1.70
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)     n/a 0.01      n/a  $ 2.69


CHARLESTON — 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 1.5 million tons (7.6%) for the week ending April 11 compared to the same time last year. Production for the week stood at 18.02 million tons compared to 19.50 million tons for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date also remained down as of April 11 coming in at 264.09 million tons compared to 275.94 million tons last year – a decline of 4.3%.

Rail car loadings also continued to decline, down 8.5% for the week from the same period last year, and they are down 3.5% year-to-date.

Electric output was up – by 0.7% for the week ending April 11 – and is down slightly (-0.4%) year-to-date. Steel output declined again for the week, down 12.0% for the week to just 1.62 million tons produced and it continues its slide year-to-date — down 6.7% to 24.77 million tons produced compared to 26.54 million tons last year. As noted previously, 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 up for the week – at 4.94 million tons from 4.76 million tons the previous week. Interior Basin production was down for the week – settling at 3.40 million tons from 3.27 million tons last week. Western production finished slightly higher this week, to 9.68 million tons from 9.38 million tons last week.

The Interior and Western Basins continued to show increased production for the previous 52 weeks ending April 4, up 1.3% and 0.7% respectively. Meanwhile, production in the Appalachian Basin is down 1.9% for the 52-week period — to 263.53 million tons from 268.51 million tons in 2014. Interior Basin production increased to 185.81 million tons from 183.48 million tons for the same period ending in 2014. Meanwhile, Western production is up to 535.88 million tons from 579.29 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 April 9, 2015) stands at 21.46 million tons year-to-date, with 16.82 million tons produced underground and 4.64 million tons produced through surface operations. The number of mines reporting production in February increased to 113. The number of mines reporting production is subject to change as additional reports are submitted. The number of active miners working fell again, down to 15,585 from 15,604 last week. Underground operations had 12,686 direct mining employees while surface operations dropped to just 2,899 employees. Again, we expect those numbers to change with additional reports.

Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending April 11 ticked down to 1.39 million tons compared to 1.58 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 4.2% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky fields reporting production declines of 4.8% and eastern Kentucky operations reporting declines of 3.6%.

Wyoming coal production also ticked down for the week to 6.99 million tons, off from 7.49 million tons for the same week in 2014. For the year, Wyoming production is unchanged. Illinois production is also up slightly for the week, coming in at 1.10 million tons compared to 1.08 for the same period in 2014. Indiana production is down, coming in at 693,000 tons compared to 765,000 tons for the week in 2014. Pennsylvania production for the week is also down slightly, to 1.22 million tons versus 1.39 million tons for the same week in 2014, but is up 10.3% for the previous 52 weeks. Ohio production is off as well — dropping to 397,000 tons compared to 500,000 tons in 2014. Virginia production was also off this week – to 261,000 tons compared to 313,000 tons for the same week in 2014. Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 11.1 percent.

Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal fell to $52.88 per ton. Northern Appalachian coal likewise, fell to $60.92 per ton. Illinois Basin coal prices ticked up to $40.77 per ton, while Powder River Basin coal held steady at $11.55 per ton and Uinta Basin coal prices jumped by $1.69 to $39.82 per ton.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub ticked up to $2.69 per million Btu. Natural gas producers reported an increase in their stored reserves – up 15 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week. Eastern fields reported a decline of 22 billion cubic feet while all other fields saw increased gas in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count dropped sharply to 988, from 1,021 last week and 1,831a year ago. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

Utilities did not issue updates to their stockpile reports once again this week.



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