U.S. Coal Production Off 38 Percent from 2015

Weekly Coal Production & Price Report (March 31, 2016)

Coal Commodity Region/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2 Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2  $      42.25  $               1.69
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3  $      48.60  $               1.87
Illinois Basin 11,800 5  $      32.20  $               1.36
Powder River Basin 8,800 0.8  $        9.45  $               0.54
Uinta Basin 11,700 0.8  $      38.05  $               1.63
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)

n/a

0.01

n/a

 $               1.79

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MA

CHARLESTON – According to the latest reports from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), coal production in the U.S. continues to slide, finishing the week off by 38 percent from 2015 totals. Meanwhile spot prices for coal continue to hold steady as they have for the past month. Natural gas spot prices, however, continue to slide.

According to the EIA’s April 1, 2016 weekly report, U.S. coal production for the week totaled just 11.60 million tons, down from 18.84 million tons for the same week in 2015. Year to date production totaled just 157.27 million tons, down from 227.45 million tons (down 30.9 percent). And for the previous 52 weeks, production was off by 17.4 percent, down from 819.97 million tons from 992.90 million tons in 2015.

The decline in coal production was reflected in rail car loadings, which were off 37.8 percent from for the week to just 66,281. This decline in rail traffic is almost entirely due to the decline in coal production and has resulted in both major eastern rail systems announcing major restructurings. CSX recently announced it is closing its regional headquarters in Huntington, West Virginia. Norfolk Southern likewise announced it is closing the Bluefield, West Virginia offices.

Coal exports for the month of January (the most recent data available) were sharply below last year. Metallurgical coal exports are off by 38.5 percent from January 2015 and steam coal exports are off by 54 percent. Imports of coal into the U.S were down for the month by 46.4 percent.

Electric output was down 4.6 percent compared to the same week last year, with 67,690 MWH of electricity produced compared to 70,933 MWH produced for the same period last year.

Domestic steel output was up was up from the previous week.

According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, in the week ending March 26, 2016, domestic raw steel production was 1.68 million net tons while the capability utilization rate was 71.6 percent. Production was 1.60 million net tons in the week ending March 26, 2015 while the capability utilization then was 67.7 percent. The current week production represents a 4.6 percent increase from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending March 26, 2016 is up 0.4 percent from the previous week ending March 19, 2016 when production was 1.69 million net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 71.3 percent.

Adjusted year-to-date domestic raw steel production through March 26, 2016 was 21.5 million net tons, at a capability utilization rate of 70.3 percent. That is down 3.4 percent from the 22.3 million net tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 72.1 percent.

In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins report significant decreases from 2015.

The Appalachian Basin finished the week at 2.81 million tons, down from 4.83 million tons in 2014 (-42 percent). Interior Basin production also finished the week down, at 2.19 million tons compared to 3.51 million tons last year (-38 percent). Western production finished the week at 6.60 million tons from 10.30 million tons last week (-36 percent).  All three basins remain down significantly for the previous 52 weeks, with the Appalachian Basin off 23.1 percent, the Interior Basin off 17.3 percent and the Western Basin off 14.7 percent.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state stands at 11.66 million tons through March 24th. Of that total, 9.66 million tons was mined by underground operations and 2.01 million tons was produced by surface mining. Only 62 mines have reported production in December2015. Several large operations have idled production due to financial restructuring or in response to slack demand.

However, according to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has fallen sharply to just 11,907 total active miners, with 9,782 working underground and 2,125 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.

According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 1.23 million tons, off from 2.11 million tons for the same week in 2015 – down 42 percent.

Production was down in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to the same week in 2015 by 39 percent and 45 percent respectively. For the week, northern West Virginia production finished up at 628,000 tons versus 617,000 tons last week and 1.03 million tons last year. Southern West Virginia, however, finished down at 601,000 tons versus 588,000 tons last week and 1.07 million tons a year ago.

Coal production in Kentucky ended the week at 774,000 tons produced, down from the 1.31 million tons from 2015. Eastern Kentucky coal operations finished the year at 344,000 tons, down from 596,000 tons. Meanwhile, western Kentucky coal operations finished at 431,000 tons versus 710,000 tons in 2015.

Wyoming coal production finished the week at 4.92 million tons versus 7.73 million tons in 2015, off by 36 percent.

Illinois coal production finished the week at 839,000 tons versus 1.3 million tons for the same week in 2015.  Indiana production, however, fell significantly, finishing at 461,000 tons versus 734,000 tons for the month a year ago. Ohio production finished the week at 205,000 tons versus 398,000 tons for the week in 2015. Pennsylvania production was down, finishing the week at 634,000 tons versus 1.1 million tons in 2014. Virginia coal production continues to tall, finishing the year down at 140,000 tons versus 286,000 tons for the year in 2015.

Coal prices on the spot market were unchanged this week. Central Appalachian coal finished the week at $42.25 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also finished unchanged, coming in at $48.60 per ton or $1.87 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal held steady at $32.20 per ton or $1.36 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal remained at $9.45 per ton or $0.55 per mmBtu. Uinta Basin coal prices finished unchanged at $38.05 per ton or $1.63 per mmBtu.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub also held steady this week to finish at $1.79 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers reported a significant decline in their stored reserves – at 2.47 trillion cubic feet, down by 25 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.48 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 12 from last week to 464 working rigs. And the count remains down by 584 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 21%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

About the Author: T.L. Headley is a veteran public relations expert and former journalist with more than 20 years in mass communications with a focus on energy. Headley has an MBA in finance and management and an MA in journalism. He is the principal for Genesis Communications and is a public relations consultant for several major coal and energy organizations in West Virginia. Headley is also a 2001 graduate of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership West Virginia program.

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Clinton and Sanders Say They Will Destroy What’s Left of Coal Industry

West Virginia’s Democratic Leadership now openly supporting an anti-coal agenda0011

LOGAN – United Citizens for Coal President Roger Horton today issued the following statement about recent comments by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the state’s new Democratic Party leadership.
“Eight years ago, Barack Obama made his intentions regarding the nation’s coal industry clear when he said he would ‘bankrupt’ anyone building a new coal-fired power plant. At a town hall meeting in coal-producing Ohio yesterday, Hillary Clinton doubled down on Obama’s policies, declaring outright that she was ‘going to put a bunch of coal miners and coal companies out of business.’
“Most Americans failed to hear Obama’s words, but it appears the destruction of the nation’s coal industry is the one promise Obama appears determined to keep. Clinton has now climbed on board with her promise to finish the job and make no mistake about it, despite her attempt to hide her intent behind empty promises of ‘job retraining’ and ‘help,’ we hear her words loud and clear.
“Let me make myself very clear…. WE DON’T WANT YOUR JOB RETRAINING OR YOUR HELP!  WE WANT OUR COAL JOBS BACK! WE WANT OUR LIVES BACK!
“Now Clinton isn’t alone in riding the anti-coal bandwagon. Her Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders has been equally clear in his intent to end the use of coal. In fact, Sanders basically wants to do away with most heavy industry. Just a few days ago, he said he wants to take trucks off the nation’s roads.
“And if you think West Virginia’s Democratic leadership is different, think again. Today’s West Virginia Democratic leaders are not like they have been for generations. These Democrats don’t like coal. They don’t like business and they don’t share the values most West Virginians hold dear. They support the Obama/Clinton/Sanders agenda.
“I have been a Democrat for my entire adult life, but I look around and I don’t see MY Democratic Party. My Democrats support the working men and women of this country. My Democrats are God-fearing, patriotic Americans who treasure the freedoms this country has provided. When I look at today’s Democratic leadership I see something I can’t and won’t support.”
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It’s Time for the 43rd Annual West Virginia Mining Symposium

070809_murray_vmed_4p.grid-4x2CHARLESTON- The West Virginia Coal Association’s 43rd Annual Mining Symposium will kick off at 8:30 A.M., Wednesday, January 27 at the Charleston Civic Center.    
The Symposium will be a streamlined two-day event, beginning with registration on Wednesday morning and going directly into the formal opening session with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, Senate President Bill Cole and the primary keynote speaker, Robert Murray, chairman, president and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation. It is expected that Mr. Murray will discuss a host of issues related to the challenges facing coal mining in West Virginia and in the United States, including his efforts to fight the job-killing intrusion of the federal EPA.
thrasher
They will be followed by internationally known coal marketing expert, Ernie Thrasher, CEO of XCoal.
The Mountaineer Guardian Safety Awards Luncheon will follow, sponsored by Jackson Kelly, PLLC.

Thursday morning will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast sponsored by Walker Machinery and Dinsmore & Shohl.

The usual full and informative program will begin at 8:30 a.m. with our congressional delegation, well known lawyers and scientists rounding out the program. The afternoon will feature a new WVCA member, the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund. VCLF CEO Tom Clarke will discuss the organization and its vision and will be followed by coal industry leaders and members of Congress and the Legislature.

The Annual Reclamation Awards Luncheon will be sponsored by Babst Calland and Civil & Environmental Consultants, at noon.

U.S. Coal Production Off 13 Percent from Last Year

Weekly Coal Production & Price Report (January 22, 2016)

Coal and Gas Prices Jan. 22, 2016

Coal Prices

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MAT, MA
Energy Analyst
CHARLESTON – According to the latest reports from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), coal production in the U.S. finished 2015 off approximately 13 percent from 2014 totals. Meanwhile spot prices for coal continue their long term decline and natural gas slipped back slightly from recent highs.
According to the EIA’s January 2, 2016 weekly report, U.S. coal production for the year totaled 886.49 million tons, down from 995.47 million tons (down 11.1 percent). The trend appears to be steepening. According to the EIA’s January 22 report, production was only 13.32 million tons, off from 19.61 million tons for the same week a year ago (off 32 percent). This is mirrored in the week’s rail car loadings, which at only 75,308 car loads, off 32.7 percent from the 111,982 car loads. This decline in rail traffic is almost entirely due to the decline in coal production and has resulted in both major eastern rail systems announcing major restructurings. CSX last week announced it is closing its regional headquarters in Huntington, West Virginia. Norfolk Southern likewise announced it is closing the Bluefield, West Virginia offices.
Coal exports for the month of November (the most recent data available) were sharply below last year. Metallurgical coal exports are off by 39 percent from November 2014 and steam coal exports are off by 34 percent. Imports of coal into the U.S were down for the month by 12.1 percent. For the year ending December 31, metallurgical coal exports were down 24.7 percent and steam coal exports were down 21.8 percent compared to the same period last year. Imports of coal for the year were down 3.8 percent from 2014.
Electric output was down 3.9 percent compared to the same week last year, with 79,650 MWH of electricity produced compared to 68,519 MWH produced for the same period last year. Electric production for the year was off 3.9 percent, which can be attributed at least in part to the mild fall across most of the country.
Domestic steel output, however, was down from the previous week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, in the week ending January 16, 2016, domestic raw steel production was 1,652,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 69.1 percent. Production was 1,807,000 net tons in the week ending January 16, 2015 while the capability utilization then was 76.4 percent. The current week production represents a 8.6 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending January 16, 2016 is up 3.6 percent from the previous week ending January 9, 2016 when production was 1,594,000 net tons and the rate of capability utilization was 66.7 percent.
Adjusted year-to-date production through January 16, 2016 was 4,686,000 net tons, at a capability utilization rate of 65.3 percent. That is down 13.4 percent from the 5,412,000 net tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 76.4 percent.

coal prod and price graphic
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported significant losses for the year.
The Appalachian Basin finished the year at 226.72 million tons, down from 267.70 million tons in 2014 (-15.3 percent). Interior Basin production also finished the year down at 167.92 million tons compared to 188.16 million tons last year (-10.8 percent). Western production finished the year at 491.85 million tons from 541.55 million tons last week (-9.2 percent). For the week ending January 16, production was also down in two of three basins. Appalachian Basin production finished the week at just 3.24 million tons, off from 3.31 million tons last week. The Interior Basin finished the week at 2.50 million tons, off from 2.53 million tons, and the Western Basin finished slightly up at 7.58 million tons from 7.56 million tons.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 100.65 million tons through December 15th. Of that total, 82.19 million tons was mined by underground operations and 18.56 million tons was produced by surface mining. Only 58 mines have reported production in December2015. Several large operations have idled production due to financial restructuring or in response to slack demand.
However, according to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia grew slightly to 15,774 total miners, with 12,705 working underground and 3,069 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis. Final reports for 2015 are due by the end of January and will be reflected in February reports.
According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the year totaled 97.81 million tons, off from 111.87 million tons. This is off 12.6 percent from 2014. EIA always reports lower production than state reports. Meanwhile, West Virginia production finished the week of 1.26 million tons, up slightly from 1.25 million tons the previous week, but off from 1.89 million tons last year.
Production was down in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last year by 6.7 percent and 23.2 percent respectively. For the week, northern West Virginia production finished up at 644,000 tons versus 620,000 tons last week and 892,000 tons last year. Southern West Virginia, however, finished down at 618,000 tons versus 628,000 tons last week and 993,000 tons a year ago.
For this week, we will focus on annualized coal production for other states, picking up weekly totals with next week’s report.
Coal production in Kentucky ended the year at 63.20 million tons produced, down by 18.1 percent from the 77.19 million tons from 2014. Eastern Kentucky coal operations finished the year at 29.52 million tons, down by 21.1 percent to 37.39 million tons. Meanwhile, western Kentucky coal operations finished off by 15.4 percent, at 33.68 million tons versus 39.39 million tons in 2014.
Wyoming coal production finished the year at 369.10 million tons versus 394.78 million tons in 2014, off by 8.3 percent .
Illinois coal production finished 2015 at 59.81 million tons versus 57.96 million tons, up by 3.2 percent from 2014. Indiana production, however, fell significantly, finishing at 34.71 million tons versus 39.16 million tons the previous year. Ohio production finished 2015 off by 20.9 percent – at 17.55 million tons versus 22.19 million tons in 2014. Pennsylvania production was down by 16.3 percent year over year, finishing at 51.63 million tons in 2015 versus 61.66 million tons in 2014. Virginia coal production continued to fall in 2015, finishing the year down 14.5 percent — at 13.21 million tons versus 15.45 million tons in 2014.
Coal prices on the spot market were all down this week, with all basins finishing down for the year. Central Appalachian coal finished the week at $42.25 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also finished down, coming in at $48.60 per ton or $1.87 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed down at $32.20 per ton or $1.36 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal fell to $9.70 per ton or $0.55 per mmBtu. Uinta Basin coal prices finished at $39.95 per ton or $1.71 per mmBtu.

gas prices  hub

Delivered gas prices
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub continued fell back slightly this week to finish at $2.32 per mmBtu from $2.38 per mmBtu last week and significantly off from $3.08 per mmBtu a year ago. Natural gas producers reported a significant decline in their stored reserves – down 168 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.48 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 13 from last week to 637 working rigs. And the count remains down by 996 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 36%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

About the Author: T.L. Headley is a veteran public relations expert and former journalist with more than 20 years in mass communications with a focus on energy. Headley has an MBA in finance and management and an MA in journalism. He is the principal for Genesis Communications and is a public relations consultant for several major coal and energy organizations in West Virginia. Headley is also a 2001 graduate of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership West Virginia program.

Weekly Coal Production & Price Report (November 12, 2015): U.S Production Continues to Trend Below 2014

CoalCommodity Region/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2 Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2 $49.00 $1.96
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3 $52.00 $2.00
Illinois Basin 11,800 5 $32.75 $1.39
Powder River Basin   8,800 0.8 $11.55 $0.66
Uinta Basin 11,700 0.8 $40.55 $1.73
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)      n/a 0.01 n/a $2.02

CHARLESTON – Coal production in the U.S. for the week ending November 7th fell slightly from the previous week, continuing to trend below 2014, according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA).
Production in the United States was down by 158,000 tons (-1.0%) to finish the week at 16.47 million compared to last week’s total of 16.63 million tons. Meanwhile, production for the week is off by 2.87 million tons (15%) from the 19.35 million tons for the same week in 2014.
Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains sharply down as of November 7th, coming in at 775.60 million tons compared to 851.29 million tons last year – a decline of 75.68 million tons or 8.9%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also continues lower from last year– finishing at 921.85 million tons compared to 987.97 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-6.7%).
Meanwhile, the number of coal rail car loadings remains down from last year, finishing the week at 94,974 cars, off 1% from same week in 2014.  Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.6% from the same period in 2014.
Coal exports for the month of September continue sharply below last year. Metallurgical coal exports are off by 33.2% from September 2014 and steam coal exports are off by 27.4% Imports of coal into the U.S. is up by 21.3 percent.  Year-to-date, metallurgical coal exports are down 21.5% and steam coal exports are down 22.6% compared to the same period last year. Imports of coal are up 6.1% for the period versus last year.
Electric output was down 1.8% compared to the same week in 2014, with 68.62 MWH of electricity produced compared to 69.89 MWH produced for the same period last year.
Domestic steel output, however, was down from the previous week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was down 1.4% from the previous week, coming in at 1.62 million tons compared to 1.64 million tons last week, with a capacity utilization factor of 67.7%.  Steel production is down sharply from the same week last year, when 1.86 million tons were produced at a capacity utilization rate of 77.2%. Steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 8.2% to 76.13 million tons produced compared to 82.94 million tons for the same period last year.
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported modest losses for the week ending November 7th compared to the previous week, but all continue sharply lower compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.03 million tons, down from 4.04 million tons last week (-0.5%). Interior Basin production also finished down at 3.17 million tons compared to 3.24 million tons last week (-2.2%). Western production finished the week lower at 9.27 million tons from 9.36 million tons last week (-0.1%).  However, production remains sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 17.1% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 13.9% from 2014. And Western production is off 14.2% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 13.6%, the Interior Basin off 8.6% and the Western Basin down 6.6%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins continue lower for the period ending November 7th, with the Appalachian Basin down 11.6%, the Interior Basin down 6.0% and the Western Region down 4.5%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 174.43 million tons from 185.52 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 236.49 million tons from 267.57 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 510.93 million tons from 581.73 million tons in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 81.10 million tons through November 5th. Of that total, 65.39 million tons was mined by underground operations and 15.71 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 107 mines are now reporting production through September 2015.
According to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia fell slightly to 14,848 total miners, with 12,052 working underground and 2,796 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.
According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 1.74 million tons essentially unchanged from the previous week (-1%).  Meanwhile, West Virginia production is off by 13.9% from the same week in 2014.
Production was up in the northern coalfields but down in the southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by 0.4% and 0.2% respectively. However, production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.3% and 18.2% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending November 7th was also up slightly compared to the previous week but remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.12 million tons, up from 1.11 million tons last week but down from the 1.39 million tons for the same week in 2014. Production in eastern Kentucky picked up slightly, while western production declined slightly. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 16.5%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 41.7% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting an 11.8% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 17.8% year-over-year.
Wyoming coal production was down for the week, coming in at 6.87 million tons, compared to 6.94 million tons the previous week, but down from the 7.93 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 1.1%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 9.0%.
Illinois production finished down, at 1.15 million tons compared to 1.20 million tons last week. Illinois production is up by 8.7% for the previous 52 weeks.
Indiana production came in at 638,000 compared to 642,000 tons for the same week in 2014. Indiana production is down by 7.2% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week was also down, to 941,000 tons versus 950,000 tons for the previous week, and production in the Keystone State is down sharply (-10.9%) for the previous 52 weeks.
Ohio production also ticked slightly higher – at 301,000 tons compared to 298,000 tons the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 19.6% year-to-date and down 17.8% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production was unchanged this week – at 227,000 tons.  Virginia production year-to-date is off by 12.6% and down for the previous 52 weeks by 12.6%.
Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal rose slightly to finish the week at $1.96 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also finished slightly up, coming in at $52.00 per ton or $2.00 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed down at $32.75 per ton or $1.39 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal held at $11.55 per ton or $0.66 per mmBtu. Uinta Basin coal prices finished  at $40.55 per ton or $1.73 per mmBtu.
Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal is up to $42.02 per ton compared to $41.88 per ton to last week, while Western Rail rose slightly to $10.18 per short ton from $10.16 and Eastern Rail coal is up to $37.63 per short ton from $36.62 the previous week.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub continued to fall this week to finish the week at $2.02 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 52 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.93 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 4 from last week to 771 working rigs. And the count remains down by 1,154 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 60%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

WEEKLY COAL PRODUCTION & PRICE REPORT (August 29, 2015): US COAL PRODUCTION CONTINUES TO GAIN AND CLOSES GAP ON 2014

production and price september 5

CHARLESTON – Coal production in the U.S. Terry 2for the week ending August 29th rose for the fourth straight week, continuing a long-term upward trend, and to narrow the gap to last year’s totals significantly in recent weeks, according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA).
Production in the United States was up by 240,000 tons (1.3%) to finish the week at 18.70 million compared to last week’s total of 18.46 million tons. Meanwhile, production for the week is off by 888,000 tons (4.6%) from the 19.59 million tons for the same week in 2014.
Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains sharply down as of August 29, coming in at 601.83 million tons compared to 657.93 million tons last year – a decline of 56.10 million tons or 8.5%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also continues lower from last year– finishing at 941.01 million tons compared to 982.52 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-4.2%).
Mirroring the coal production, the number of coal rail car loadings remains down from last year, finishing the week at 108,710 cars, off 4.6% from same week in 2014. Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.2% from the same period in 2014.
Coal exports were not updated this week.
Electric output was down 4.1% compared to the same week in 2014, with 83.47 MWH of electricity produced compared to 87.03 MWH produced for the same period last year.
Domestic steel output, however, was down from the previous week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was down 2.2% from the previous week, coming in at 1.70 million tons compared to 1.74 million tons last week, with a capacity utilization factor of 71.2%. However, steel production was down sharply from the same week last year, when 1.93 million tons were produced at a capacity utilization rate of 80.2%. Steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 8.0% to 59.23 million tons produced compared to 64.34 million tons for the same period last year.
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported modest gains for the week ending August 29 compared to the previous week, but all continue sharply lower compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.88 million tons, up from 4.81 million tons last week (1.4%). Interior Basin production also finished slightly up at 3.61 million tons compared to 3.56 million tons last week (1.4%). Western production finished the week higher at 10.22 million tons from 10.09 million tons last week (1.3%). However, production remains sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 6% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 4.8% from 2014. And Western production is off 3.8% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 12.1%, the Interior Basin off 7.5% and the Western Basin down 7.0%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins continue lower for the period ending August 29, with the Appalachian Basin down 8.1%, the Interior Basin down 2.4% and the Western Region down 2.9%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 178.93 million tons from 183.36 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 245.54 million tons from 267.25 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 516.53 million tons from 531.92 million tons in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 60.12 million tons through August 27. Of that total, 47.78 million tons was mined by underground operations and 12.34 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 90 mines are now reporting production through July 2015.
According to WVOMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia fell slightly to 15,052 total miners, with 12,226 working underground and 2,826 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.
According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 2.07 million tons compared to 2.05 million tons for the previous week (-1%). Meanwhile, West Virginia production is off by 4.5% from the same week in 2014.
Production was up in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by .04% and .02% respectively. However, production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.1% and 1.2% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending August 29 was also up compared to the previous week and remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.37 million tons, up from 1.35 million tons last week but down from the 1.52 million tons for the same week in 2014. The eastern and western regions of Kentucky but the state appear to again be seeing significant declines year over year. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 15.7%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 11.7% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting a 10.0% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 13.5% year-over-year.
Wyoming coal production was up for the week, coming in at 7.43 million tons, compared to 7.33 million tons the previous week, but down from the 7.72 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 3.8%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 2.2%. Illinois production also finished slightly up at 1.23 million tons compared to 1.22 million tons last week. Illinois production is up by 11.5% for the previous 52 weeks.
Indiana production came in at 708,000 compared to 699,000 tons for the same week in 2014. Indiana production is down by 6.5% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week was also slightly up, to 1.16 million tons versus 1.15 million tons for the previous week, and production in the Keystone State is down slightly (-2.9%) for the previous 52 weeks.
Ohio production also ticked slightly higher – at 386,000 tons compared to 381,000 tons the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 16.4% year-to-date and down 13.7% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production increased slightly this week – to 255,000 tons compared to 252,000 tons for last week. Virginia production year-to-date is off by 16.2% and down for the previous 52 weeks by 14.9%.
Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal rose to at $4 per ton or $1.94 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal also fell, coming in at $51.90 per ton or $2.00 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed unchanged at $39.75 per ton or $1.46 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal held at $11.55 per ton or $0.66 per mmBtu, and Uinta Basin coal prices were firm at $39.55 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu.
Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal is down to $42.95 per ton compared to $42.92 per ton to last week, while Western Rail rose to $10.58 per short ton from $10.56 and Eastern Rail coal is up to $44.30 per short ton from $43.83 the previous week.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub fell 19 cents to finish the week at $2.69 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 69 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 3.10 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is down by 13 from last week to 864 working rigs. And the count remains down by 1,061 rigs from a year ago – a decline of 55.2%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

SAVE THE DATE — WE NEED YOU THERE TO HELP SAVE YOUR JOBS!

The federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) will hold a public hearing in Charleston on Thursday, September 17, 2015 on what they’re calling the Stream Protection Rule (SPR), which is actually the Stream Buffer Zone Rule and is a complete “rewrite” of the federal surface mining act to the detriment of the mining industry and landowners across the country.  This hearing will be held at the Charleston Civic Center, beginning at 5:00 p.m.   The actual hearing will not begin until 6:00 p.m., but we need to have plenty of miners, suppliers, their families and supporters there early to insure we get signed up to speak before others.   Prior to the Charleston hearing, there will be hearings (noted below) in Pittsburgh and Big Stone Gap, VA, which also need strong industry participation.  The earlier hearings in Denver and Lexington, KY have been successful with good industry presence and involvement.
We’re already hurting badly enough, without them “piling on” with more over-reaching regulations.  And, these really over-reach as they will make it virtually impossible to get a new mining permit, renew the ones we currently have or continue operations in any sense.  WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Please RESERVE THE DATE and plan to be in Charleston on the 17th to help us protect our jobs from this latest attack by Obama’s War on Coal!

  • Thursday, September 17, 2015
    City: Charleston, WV
    Location: Charleston Civic Center
    200 Civic Center Dr., Charleston 25301
    Time: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

If you can’t make it to the Charleston event, here are the dates and sites for the other hearings in our region.

  • Thursday, September 10, 2015
    City: Pittsburgh, PA
    Location: Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh
    500 Mansfield Ave., Pittsburgh 15205
    Time: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 15, 2015
    City: Big Stone Gap, VA
    Location: Mountain Empire Community College
    3441 Mt. Empire Rd., Big Stone Gap 24219
    Time: 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

U.S. COAL PRODUCTION SLIPS SLIGHTLY WEEK OVER WEEK: WEEKLY COAL PRODUCTION & PRICE REPORT: August 1, 2015

Coal Commodity Region/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2 Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2 $49.95 $2.00
 Northern Appalachia 13,000 3 $52.25 $2.01
 Illinois Basin 11,800 5 $34.35 $1.46
 Powder River Basin   8,800 0.8 $11.55 $0.66
 Uinta Basin 11,700 0.8 $39.55 $1.69
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)       n/a 0.01 n/a $2.87

 By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MA

Coal production in the U.S. for the week ending August 1 slipped slightly off the rec
ent high set last week, and production continues to fall short of last year according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the week.
Production in the United States was down by 802,000 tons (.5%) to finish the week at 17.72 million tons compared to last week’s total of 17.82 million tons but significantly above the 16.40 million tons produced two weeks ago. Meanwhile, production for the week is off by 3.12 million tons (11.3%) from the 20.08 million tons for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains sharply down as of August 1, coming in at 528.15 million tons compared to 578.46 million tons last year – a decline of 50.31 million tons or 8.7%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also trended lower – finishing at 946.73 million tons compared to 984.86 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-3.9%).
Mirroring the coal production, the number of coal rail car loadings declined, finishing the week down 11.9% from same week in 2014 – to 102,999 carloads from 116.881 carloads last year. Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.5% from the same period in 2014.
Exports of coal continue far below 2014 levels. EIA reports that for the month of June the United States exported 3.95 million tons of metallurgical coal and 1.80 million tons of steam coal — down 32.2% and 35.8% from June 2014 respectively.
Electric output was up 10.6 percent compared to the same week in 2014, with 93.09 MWH of electricity produced compared to 84.20 MWH produced for the same period last year.
Domestic steel output, however, was up from the previous week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was up .05% from the previous week, coming in at 1.76 million tons compared to 1.75 million tons last week with a capacity utilization factor of 73.6%.  However, steel production was down sharply from the same week last year, when 1.91 million tons were produced at a capacity utilization rate of 79.6%.  Steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 7.7% to 52.25 million tons produced compared to 56.62 million tons for the same period last year.
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported slightly lower production for the week ending August 1 compared to the previous week, and all continue sharply lower compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.62 million tons, down from 4.65 million tons last week (-.07%). Interior Basin production also finished down at 3.41 million tons compared to 3.44 million tons last week (-.09%). Western production finished the week down at 9.69 million tons from 9.74 million tons last week (-.06%).  And production remains sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 13% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 13% from 2014. And Western production is off 11.1% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 12.6%, the Interior Basin off 7.5% and the Western Basin down 7.1%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins are also trending lower for the period ending August 1, with the Appalachian Basin down 7.5%, the Interior Basin down 1.8% and the Western Region down 2.8%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 180.07 million tons from 183.32 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 247.34 million tons from 267.40 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 519.32 million tons from 534.14 million tons in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 52.57 million tons through July 30. Of that total, 42.01 million tons was mined by underground operations and 10.56 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 112 mines are now reporting production through June 2015.
According to WV OMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia rose slightly to 15,251 total miners, with 12,439 working underground and 2,812 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.
According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 1.96 million tons compared to 1.98 million tons for the previous week (-.6%).  West Virginia production is off by 11.8% from the same week in 2014.
Production decreased in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by -.6% in both the northern and southern coalfields. Production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.1% and 17.7% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending August 1 was also compared to the previous week and remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.30 million tons, up from 1.31 million tons last week but down from the 1.56 million tons for the same week in 2014. Both the eastern and western regions of Kentucky appear to have stabilized their production but the state continues to see significant declines in both fields year over year. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 16.1%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 10.9% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting an 9.2% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 12.6% year-over-year.
Wyoming coal production was also down for the week, coming in at 7.04 million tons, compared to 7.08 million tons the previous week, but down from the 7.91 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 11%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 2.2%.
Illinois production also finished lower, at 1.16 million tons compared to 1.17 million tons last week. Illinois production remains up by 12.4% for the previous 52 weeks. Indiana production came in at 671,000 compared to 675,000 tons for the same week in 2014. Indiana production is also down by 6.5% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week was also down, to just 1.1 million tons versus 1.11 million tons for the previous week, and production in the Keystone State is down slightly (1.7%) for the previous 52 weeks.
Ohio production also finished slightly lower – at 365,000 tons compared to 367,000 tons the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 17.1% year-to-date and down 13.7% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production decreased slightly this week – to 242,000 tons compared to 243,000 tons for last week. Virginia production year-to-date is off by 16.6% and down for the previous 52 weeks by 14.8%.
Coal prices on the spot market held steady this week. Central Appalachian coal held at $49.95 per ton or $2.00 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal held at $52.25 per ton or $2.01 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed unchanged at $34.35 per ton or $1.46 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal held at $11.55 per ton or $0.66 per mmBtu, and Uinta Basin coal prices were firm at $39.55 per ton or $1.69 per mmBtu.
Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal is down to $42.88 per ton compared to $43.14 per ton to last week, while Western Rail rose to $10.34 per short ton from $10.22 and Eastern Rail coal is up to $43.73 per short ton from $42.27 the previous week.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub fell 2 cents to finish the week at $2.87 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 52 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 2.88 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is up by 10 from last week to 884 working rigs. However, the count remains down by 1024 rigs from a year ago – down 54%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

U.S. COAL PRODUCTION UP AGAIN WEEK OVER WEEK: WEEKLY COAL PRODUCTION & PRICE REPORT: JULY 24, 2015

Coal Commodity Region/Fuel  Avg. BTU  SO2  Price Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia 12,500 1.2  $54.90 $2.20
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3  $53.20 $2.05
Illinois Basin 11,800 5  $34.35 $1.46
Powder River Basin   8,800 0.8  $11.55 $0.66
Uinta Basin 11,700 0.8  $39.35 $1.68
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)    n/a 0.01      n/a $2.75

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MA

Coal production in the U.S. rose sharply for the week ending July 18, compared to the terryprevious week – continuing the positive trend of the past few weeks.  However production continues to fall short of last year according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the week.
Production in the United States increased by 801,000 tons (4%) to finish the week at 16.40 million tons compared to last week’s total of 16.40 million tons. Meanwhile, production for the week is off by 2.24 million tons (11.5%) from the 19.44 million tons for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains down as of July 18, coming in at 492.60 million tons compared to 538.54 million tons last year – a decline of 45.94 million tons or 8.5%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also trended lower – finishing at 951.19 million tons compared to 985.32 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-3.5%).
Mirroring the coal production, the number of coal rail car loadings increased, finishing the week up 21% from the previous week – 99,975 carloads from 82,924 carloads last year. However, loadings remain down sharply compared to the 2014 (-11.6%). Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.4% from the same period in 2014.
Export and import data was not updated this week.
Electric output was up 6.5 percent compared to the same week in 2014, with 88 MWH of electricity produced compared to 82.61 MWH produced for the same period last year.
Domestic steel output was also up over the previous week.
According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was up by 0.7% from the previous week, coming in at 1.75 million tons compared to 1.74 million tons last week with a capacity utilization factor of 73.3%.  However, steel production was down sharply from the same week last year, when 1.91 million tons were produced at a capacity utilization rate of 79.6%.  Steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 7.7% to 48.7 million tons produced compared to 52.79 million tons for the same period last year.
In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins again reported higher production for the past week compared to the previous week, however all continue sharply lower compared to the same week in 2014.
The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.48 million tons, up from 4.28 million tons last week (+4%). Interior Basin production also finished up at 3.32 million tons compared to 3.16 million tons last week (+5%). Western production finished the week at 9.40 million tons from 8.96 million tons last week (+5%).  However production remains sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 12.9% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 11.8% from 2014. And Western production is off 10.9% from the same period in 2014.
All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 12.6%, the Interior Basin off 7.2% and the Western Basin down 6.9%.
Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins are trending lower for the period ending July 18, with the Appalachian Basin down 7.0%, the Interior Basin down 1.2% and the Western Region down 2.5%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 180.95 million tons from 183.16 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 248.65 million tons from 267.30 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 521.59 million tons from 534.87 million tons in 2014.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 50.40 million tons through July 9. Of that total, 40.68 million tons was mined by underground operations and 9.71 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 112 mines are now reporting production through May 2015.
According to WV OMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has now dropped to 15,200 total miners, with 12,401 working underground and 2,799 working on surface operations. The office does not report data for contract miners or preparation plant workers on a weekly basis.
According to EIA, West Virginia coal production for the week totaled 1.96 million tons compared to 1.82 million tons for the previous week (+5.4%).  However, this is off by 12.8% from the same week in 2014.
Production increased in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by 4.9% in the northern field and 4.8% in the southern coalfields. Production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.1% and 17.7% respectively.
Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending July 18 was also up compared to the previous week but remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.26 million tons, up from 1.20 million tons last week but down from the 1.51 million tons for the same week in 2014. Both the eastern and western regions of Kentucky reported significant increases in production from the previous week but the state continues to see significant declines in both fields year over year. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 16.2%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 10.2% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting an 8.6% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 11.9% year-over-year.
Wyoming coal production was also up for the week, coming in at 6.83 million tons, compared to 6.52 million tons the previous week, but down from the 7.66 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 14.9%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 2.0%.
Illinois production was up, finishing the week at 1.13 million tons compared to 1.08 million tons last week. Illinois production is also up by 13.1% for the previous 52 weeks. Indiana production is up as well, coming in at 651,000 tons compared to 621.000 tons for the same week in 2014. Indiana production is also down by 6.3% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week also finished up, to just 1.07 million tons versus 1.02 million tons for the previous week, but production in the Keystone State is now down slightly (0.9%) for the previous 52 weeks.
Ohio production also finished slightly higher – at 355,000 tons compared to 338,000 tons the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 17.4% year-to-date and down 13.5% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production increased this week – to 235,000 tons compared to 224,000 tons for last week. Virginia production year-to-date is off by 16.6% and down for the previous 52 weeks by 14.5%.
Coal prices on the spot market held steady this week. Central Appalachian coal finished at $54.90 per ton or $2.20 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal held at $53.20 per ton or $2.05 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal closed unchanged at $34.35 per ton or $1.46 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal held at $11.55 per ton or $0.66 per mmBtu, and Uinta Basin coal prices were firm at $39.35 per ton or $1.68 per mmBtu.
Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal is up to $43.13 per ton compared to $41.03 per ton to last week, while Western Rail fell 1 cent to $10.04 per short ton and Eastern Rail coal is up to $42.33 per short ton.
Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub added 14 cents to finish the week at $2.89 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 99 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 2.77 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count is up by 19 from last week to 876 working rigs. However, the count remains down by 1007 rigs from a year ago – down 53%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

War on Coal Pain Continues: Region to feel brunt of CSX layoffs

10700756_926235410737765_5408157025333664825_oFROM THE HERALD-DISPATCH
Jul. 17, 2015 @ 07:02 AM
BRANDON ROBERTS
HUNTINGTON – Citing continued weakness in its coal markets, CSX announced a 1 percent reduction in its workforce for the third quarter of 2015 with a majority of the 600 employees being cut from its Huntington division.

“CSX aims to match workforce needs with general business demand, and therefore CSX is furloughing some contract employees,” said Kaitlyn Barrett, from CSX’s corporate communications office. “Most of the furloughed employees operate trains, either as locomotive engineers or conductors.” CSX’s Huntington Division spans Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio.

“Furloughed employees are assigned priority status for job openings elsewhere at CSX in areas where traffic volumes are higher,” Barrett said.

The Associated Press has reported the furloughs will be through a combination of layoffs and attrition.
Coal volume is expected to drop 15 percent as export demand remains weak and U.S. utilities have large coal stockpiles on hand, according to the Associated Press. Drilling for natural gas and crude oil has slowed because of the current low prices.

CSX Chairman and CEO Michael Ward told the Associated Press he thinks the railroad did a good job improving what it could control as it dealt with challenging energy markets.

“We had good efficiency, we had good pricing and good service improvements during the quarter, so we were happy with the path,” Ward said.

CSX operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces.

Follow reporter Brandon Roberts on Twitter @brobertsHD.