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.

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.

So you’re upset about Boone County closing trash dumps? Get real!

BY ROGER HORTON, president
Citizens for Coal

I have been reading about the decision this week by the Boone County Commission to shut down its trash dump program.  For years, the county’s thriving coal industry provided enough money to fund a lot of conveniences for its people. Now, it seems, a lot of people are upset because they will no longer be getting free trash disposal.  While I understand no one likes to suddenly have to pay for something they had been getting for free, I have to ask where they have been for the past seven years?

And I also think it’s time for some of the people of Boone County, and Logan County, and Mingo, McDowell, Wyoming, Lincoln, Wayne, Raleigh and West Virginia to GET REAL!
Open your eyes up and take a look around you! Look at what’s happening! Look at what’s BEEN happening for the past seven years!

While this is admittedly a seat of the pants estimate based on numbers from the WV Office of Miners Health Safety and Training, Boone County has lost 1,570 direct mining jobs since 2008 — which is about 41 percent of the county’s 2008 mining workforce.
It has lost about 60 percent of its 2008 coal production — down from 27.4 million tons in 2008 to just 11 million tons in 2014.
The price of coal during that period has fallen from about $85 a ton on average to just $52 a ton and with that the total value of coal produced has fallen by 75 percent.
Direct wages paid by the industry in the county have fallen from $259 million in 2008 to just $160 million in 2014 — a loss of $98.7 million or 38 percent of direct mining wages.
Coal severance tax collections have fallen from $116 million in 2008 to just $28 million in 2014 — down 75 percent — and with that coal severance distributions have fallen by approximately 75 percent as well.
In the meantime, based on the standard multiplier, Boone County has lost approximately 41 percent of the indirect jobs created by the coal industry and about $210 million in indirect wages.
Altogether, Boone County has lost approximately 13,000 jobs either in the county or dependent on mining jobs in Boone County and it has lost about $300 million in wages (direct or indirect), along with most of its most of its coal severance distributions.
The county’s unemployment rate right now is a reported 11 percent and that is based on a population in which less than half the working age people actually work or are looking for work.
It is incomprehensible to me that you all are concerned about the county closing trash dumps.
LISTEN UP PEOPLE — not only will your trash dumps be closing but so will your schools and other county services!  And the same thing is happening all across the state and the region.
This is just a start! And like we have said for the past seven years, this is the result of the Obama war on coal! It’s that simple! You either join us to fight or we all lose!

UPDATED DATA FROM WEST VIRGINIA

Updated Jobs Lost to War on Coal

CHARLESTON — Why is it important for you to be at the OSM hearing in Charleston on September 17th? Here’s why… 8,609 direct mining jobs lost in just the past three and a half years — 35 PERCENT of our mining workforce!
Add to that 48,414 indirect and support jobs and that means the state has lost 56,483 total jobs in just the past four years.
Let those numbers sink in if you don’t think the coal industry matters to you.
Be at the Charleston Civic Center at 5 PM September 17th!

WV Senate President Cole says Legislature Made Substantive Progress in 2015

BIC Chairman Chris Hamilton addresses the crowd in Bridgeport
BIC Chairman Chris Hamilton addresses the crowd in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT — “The Legislature made substantive and impactful progress in the 2015 legislative session and work has begun in earnest on our 2016 agenda,” said Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Bill Cole in his opening remarks during BIC’s fourth regional business forum Thursday at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Bridgeport, WV. Nearly 60 business and policy leaders from north central West Virginia and across the state participated.

“The legal reforms passed during the last session are starting to bear fruit,” Cole said.

Senate President Bill Cole talks about the 2015 Legislative session and plans for the 2016 session during the meeting at Bridgeport.
Senate President Bill Cole talks about the 2015 Legislative session and plans for the 2016 session during the meeting at Bridgeport.

He referenced that a major insurance company doing business in the state has informed him that they will be announcing a rate reduction on auto insurance by nearly 6 percent in the near future. “That is just one tangible example of your legislature getting results.”

“We’re going to continue to move the needle for West Virginia and we’re going to do it in a big way in 2016,” Cole stated.  “We’re going to take on the hard issues, many of which may have been taboo in the past, but which will make us competitive and bring us in line with other states.” Cole cited Right To Work and Prevailing Wage as policy initiatives the legislature will be considering.

“We’ve got to make changes now,” Cole said. “West Virginia is one of the only states in the country to see a population decrease and we’ve got to reverse that trend.  To do that, we need to double down on the things that are working and stop doing the things keeping us at the top of the “bad” lists.

Cole noted his appreciation for BIC’s role in promoting the policies, as well as the political candidates, that West Virginia needs to move the state forward.

Chris Hamilton, Chairman of BIC, framed the challenges facing West Virginia and BIC’s role in spearheading positive change.

“It is all of our duty here today to support those tackling the hard issues and to elect candidates that will continue this trend into the future,” Hamilton stated.

The event featured a variety of speakers, covering various issues.

Eugenie Taylor with the WV Chamber of Commerce outlined the need for passing public charter school legislation.  “For those with resources in West Virginia, they have the option of sending their children to private schools which they may feel provide their children with the support they need to thrive,” Taylor said. “However, for the majority of West Virginians without such means, they have no alternative to public schools.”

“This is in no way an effort to replace public schools,” Taylor said.  “It is, however, one more tool that can help move West Virginia forward.”  Echoing WVU President Gordon Gee’s comments during the WV Chamber’s recent Business Summit, Taylor said, “West Virginia doesn’t have time for incrementalism.  We need all the tools in the toolbox to be available to us now.”

Taylor said the Chamber is working to build a coalition of public charter school supporters and encouraged those in attendance to contact her should they like to participate.

Senate Education Chairman Dave Sypolt outlined the challenges he and his committee face in working to improve West Virginia’s education system.  “The West Virginia code includes more than 700 pages dealing with education,” Sypolt said. “My goal is to review and simplify the code to create a more student-centered education system.”

Brian Hoylman, Executive Director of the Associated Builders & Contracts, presented on the movement to enact a Workforce Freedom – or Right To Work – law in West Virginia.  “An employee shouldn’t be forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of their employment.”

Hoylman cited a MetroNews poll announced on Labor Day which found that 60 percent of West Virginia voters would support a Right To Work law.  “Interestingly,” Hoylman noted, “only 30 percent of those polled were republicans, which shows the broad based support this initiative has.”

Delegates Amy Summers and Terry Waxman outlined their desire to improve West Virginia’s healthcare and welfare systems and to implement solutions addressing substance abuse.

Corky DeMarco, President of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, provided an overview on the immense natural gas resources under the ground in our region.  “West Virginia and our region will overtake Saudi Arabia in terms of oil and gas production when it’s all said and done,” DeMarco stated. “We need the legislature to take steps to assure production continues and that we maximize the downstream opportunities available for economic growth.”

Chris Hamilton outlined the challenges facing West Virginia’s coal industry and the ongoing impact of President Obama’s war on coal.  “We’ve lost approximately 6,000 mining jobs in West Virginia over the past several years and a quarter of our production.  While that is devastating to working families and our economy, we hope that the trend has begun to level off.  Coal will continue to provide a significant portion of America’s electricity into the future.”

Delegate Paul Espinosa, Kathy Wagner, President of the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, and Barbara DeMary, Executive Director of the Region 6 Workforce Investment Board, outlined the economic development challenges and opportunities facing north central West Virginia and the region.

“The two greatest challenges facing north central West Virginia right now are 1) retaining the businesses we have here today, and 2) finding workers for jobs both now and in the future,” said Wagner.

DeMary informed the group that there are a lot of people unemployed and in need of training in the region.  She outlined a federal program that will incent food stamp beneficiaries in the Monongalia, Harrison and Marion County region to begin job training programs or lose their food stamp benefits.

The next BIC regional forum will take place in Vienna on Oct. 8.

Congressman Evan Jenkins is Special Guest for June Edition of The Coal Seam Television Show.

CHARLESTON — The Coal Seam television show is in its seventh season on the West Virginia Library Television Network. The show continues to be the source for news about the Mountain State’s coal industry. Congressman Evan Jenkins joined host Chris Hamilton for an exclusive interview for the June 2015 show. The show has an audience of 577,000 West Virginians. Below is a link to the show on Youtube.

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.

US Coal Production Jumps 16% from Previous Week but Remains Down 11% from 2014: Price Drop for Northern App and Illinois Basin Coal

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

CHARLESTON — Coal production in the U.S. rose sharply for the week ending July 11. terryMeanwhile the decline from last year continues to expand according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the week.

Production in the United States jumped by 2.3 million tons (16%) to finish the week at 16.40 million tons compared to last week’s total of 14.12 million tons. Meanwhile production for the week is off by 1.9 million tons (11%) from the 18.26 million tons for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date remains down as of July 11, coming in at 475.40 million tons compared to 518.30 million tons last year – a decline of 434.85 million tons or 8.4%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also trended lower – finishing at 951.53 million tons compared to 985.08 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-3.2%).

Mirroring the coal production, the number of coal rail car loadings increased, finishing the week up 14.95% from the previous week, however, loadings are down sharply compared to the 2014 (-11%). Coal loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.3% from the same period in 2014.

Coal export/import data for May shows exports of metallurgical coal continues to trend lower – off 1.9% from 2014 at 4.55 million tons. Meanwhile exports of steam coal are off by 27.5% to 2.21 million tons. Imports of coal have also fallen – down 28.2% to just 919,000.  In terms of cumulative exports year-to-date, shipments of metallurgical coal have fallen by 14.6% compared to 2014 and steam exports have fallen 22.4%. Imports of coal have increased by 3.2% to 4.81 million tons of coal.

Electric output was down 2 percent compared to the same week in 2014, with 85.05 MWH of electricity produced compared to 86.74 MWH produced for the same period last year.

Domestic steel output, however, continued it’s near freefall this week.

According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was down 9.1% for the week, at 1.74 million tons, with a capacity utilization factor of 72.8%, compared to the same week in 2014. And steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 7.6% to 46.99 million tons produced compared to 50.88 million tons for the same period last year.

In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported higher production for the past week compared to the previous week, but all remain down sharply compared to the same week in 2014.

The Appalachian Basin finished at 4.28 million tons, up from 3.76 million tons last week (+13.8%). Interior Basin production also finished up, at 3.16 million tons compared to 2.71 million tons last week (+17%). Western production finished the week at 8.96 million tons from 7.69 million tons last week (+16.5%). However, these numbers are sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 11.6% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 10.8% from 2014. And Western production is off 9.7% 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 7.1% and the Western Basin down 6.7%.

Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins are trending lower for the period ending July 11, with the Appalachian Basin down 6.7%, the Interior Basin down 0.9% and the Western Region down 2.3%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 181.39 million tons from 183.00 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 249.31 million tons from 267.12 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 522.73 million tons from 534.96 million tons in 2014.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 47.60 million tons through July 9. Of that total, 38.20 million tons was by underground operations and 9.40 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 110 mines are now reporting production through May 2015.

According to WV OMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has now dropped to 15,269 total miners, with 12,451 working underground and 2,818 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 1.82 million tons compared to 1.59 million tons for the previous week (+14.5%).  However, this is off by 11.4% from the same week in 2014.
Production increased in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by 14.6% in the northern field and 13.4% in the southern coalfields. Production is off in both areas year-to-date, by 1.1% and 17.8% respectively.

Coal production in Kentucky for the week ending July 11 was also up sharply compared to the previous week but remains down from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.20 million tons, up from 1.06 million tons last week but down from the 1.42 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 9.9% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting an 8.3% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 11.6% year-over-year.

Wyoming coal production was also up for the week, coming in at 6.52 million tons, compared to 5.58 million tons the previous week, but down from the 7.21 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 9.6%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 1.9%.

Illinois production was up, finishing the week at 1.08 million tons compared to 921,000 tons last week. However, Illinois production is up by 13.6% for the previous 52 weeks. Indiana production is up as well, coming in at 621,000 tons compared to 539,000 tons for the week in 2014. Indiana production is also down by 6.2% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week also finished up, to just 1.02 million tons versus 899.000 tons for the previous week, but production in the Keystone State is now down slightly (0.4%) for the previous 52 weeks.

Ohio production also finished higher – at 338,000 tons compared to 302,000 tons the previous week. Ohio coal production is off 13.3% for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production increased this week – to 224,000 tons compared to 199,000 tons for last week. Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 14.4%.

Coal prices on the spot market were mixed this week. Central Appalachian coal added 10 cents to $54.90 per ton or $2.20 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal fell by almost $5 per ton to come in at $53.20 per ton or $2.05 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal fell by more than $6 per ton to close at $34.35 per ton or $1.46 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal fell by 55 cents a ton to close at $11.55 per ton or $0.66 per mmBtu, and Uinta Basin coal prices held steady at $39.35 per ton or $1.68 per mmBtu.

Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal was trading at $41.03 per ton while Western Rail was selling at $10.05 per short ton and Eastern Rail was selling at $42.06 per short ton.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub finished the week down, at $2.75 per mmBtu. Natural gas producers again reported a significant increase in their stored reserves – up 91 billion cubic feet compared to the previous week, for a total of 2.67 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count remained at 863 from last week and down by 1,012 rigs from a year ago – down 54%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

WEEKLY COAL PRODUCTION AND PRICE REPORT 7/10/15: U.S. Coal Production Falls Sharply 

Commodity Region/Fuel Avg. BTU SO2 Price  Price/mmBTU
Central Appalachia  2,500 1.2 $54.80  $2.19
Northern Appalachia 13,000 3 $58.05  $2.23
Illinois Basin 11,800 5 $40.55  $1.73
Powder River Basin   8,800 0.8 $12.10  $0.69
Uinta Basin  11,700 0.8 $39.35  $1.68
Natural Gas (Henry Hub)     n/a 0.01   n/a  $2.79

By T.L. HEADLEY, MBA, MAT, MA

CHARLESTON — Coal production in the U.S. fell sharply for the week ending July 4. terryAnd the decline from last year steepened, with production off 16.6% from last year’s levels according to the latest report from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) for the week.

Production in the United States fell by 1.4 million tons (-9%) to finish the week at 14.15 million tons compared to last week’s total of 15.52 million tons. And production for the week is off by 2.8 million tons (16.6%) from the 16.96 million tons for the same week in 2014. Cumulative production for the year-to-date is also down sharply as of July 4, coming in at 459 million tons compared to 501.05 million tons last year – a decline of 42.05 million tons or 8.4%. Production for the previous 52 weeks also trended lower – finishing at 955.33 million tons compared to 985.78 million tons for the same period ending in 2014 (-3.1%).

The number of coal rail car loadings also fell sharply, finishing the week off 18.6% from the same period last year. Rail car loadings also continued their decline year-to-date – off 9.3% from the same period in 2014.

Coal export/import data was not updated again this week.

Electric output was down 4 percent compared to the same week in 2014. With 80.24 MWH of electricity produced compared to 83.61 MWH produced for the same period last year.

Domestic steel output, however, continued it’s near freefall this week.

According to numbers from the American Iron and Steel Institute, domestic raw steel production was down 11.4% for the week, at 1.68 million tons, with a capacity utilization factor of 71.2%, compared to the same week in 2014. And steel production continues its slide year-to-date – down 7.6% to 45.24 million tons produced compared to 48.96 million tons for the same period last year.

In terms of regional coal production, all three major basins reported sharply lower over the past week compared to the previous week, and all remain down sharply compared to the same week in 2014.

The Appalachian Basin finished at 3.76 million tons, sliding from 4.25 million tons last week (-11.6%). Interior Basin production also finished down, at 2.71 million tons compared to 2.93 million tons last week (-7.6%). Western production finished the week at 7.69 million tons from 8.34 million tons last week (-7.8%). And these numbers are sharply below the same week in 2014. The Appalachian Basin is off by 17.8% from the same week last year. The Interior Basin is off 16.2% from 2014. And Western production is off 16.1% from the same period in 2014.

All three basins also continue to report significant declines in production year-to-date, with Appalachia down 12.7%, the Interior Basin off 7% and the Western Basin down 6.7%.

Looking at the previous 52 weeks, all three basins are trending lower for the period ending June 20, with the Appalachian Basin down 6.5%, the Interior Basin down 0.7% and the Western Region down 2.2%. Production in the Interior Basin fell to 181.76 million tons from 183.05 million tons for the same period in 2014. Appalachian production fell for the period to 249.87 million tons from 267.18 million tons. Meanwhile, Western production is down to 523.69 million tons from 535.56 million tons in 2014.

According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training, coal production in the state now stands at 44.05 million tons through July 2. Of that total, 35.27 million tons was by underground operations and 8.78 million tons was produced by surface mining. A total of 99 mines are now reporting production through May 2015.

According to WV OMHST, coal mining employment in West Virginia has now dropped to 15,296 total miners, with 12,459 working underground and 2,837 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 1.59 million tons compared to 1.78 million tons for the previous week (10.3%). And this is off by 16.7% from the same week in 2014.
Production declined in both the northern and southern coalfields of West Virginia compared to last week, by 9.6% in the northern field and 10.8% 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 4 was also down sharply compared to the previous week but remains down sharply from the same period in 2014. Kentucky production for the week was reported at 1.06 compared to 1.20 million tons last week and 1.34 million tons for the same week in 2014. Both the eastern and western regions of Kentucky reported significant declines in production from the previous week and the state continues to see significant declines in both fields year over year. Year to date, production in Kentucky is off by 16.3%. Meanwhile production in the state is off by 9.6% for the previous 52 weeks, with western Kentucky reporting an 8.1% decline and eastern Kentucky operations reporting a decline of 11.2% year-over-year.

Wyoming coal production was also down for the week compared to 2014, coming in at 5.58 million tons, compared to 6.02 million tons the previous week, and down from the 6.64 million tons produced for the same week in 2014 – a decline of 16%. For the previous 52 weeks, Wyoming production is down 1.8%.

Illinois production remains down, finishing the week at 921,000 tons compared to 973,000 tons last year. However, Illinois production is up by 13.8% for the previous 52 weeks. Indiana production is down as well, coming in at 539,000 tons compared to 655,000 tons for the week in 2014. Indiana production is also down by 6.1% over the previous 52 weeks. Pennsylvania production for the week finished down sharply, to just 889,000 million tons versus 1.04 million tons for the same week in 2014, and is now down slightly (0.1%) for the previous 52 weeks.

Ohio production is off as well – at 302,000 tons compared to 381,000 tons in 2014. Ohio coal production is off 13.3 percent for the previous 52 weeks, compared to the same period ending in 2014. Virginia production fell sharply this week – to just 199,000 tons compared to 254,000 tons for the same week in 2014 (-21.7%). Virginia production for the previous 52 weeks is off by 14.2%.

Coal prices on the spot market edged higher across the board this week. Central Appalachian coal rose slightly more than $1 to $54.80 per ton or $2.19 per mmBtu. Northern Appalachian coal jumped by $1.15 to come in at $58.75 per ton or $2.23 per mmBtu. Illinois Basin coal added 40 cents to close at $40.85 per ton or $1.73 per mmBtu, while Powder River Basin coal added 55 cents to close at $12.10 per ton or $0.69 per mmBtu, and Uinta Basin coal prices added 25 cents to finish at $39.35 per ton or $1.68 per mmBtu.

Meanwhile, on the NYMEX Coal Futures board, Central Appalachian coal was trading at $40.82 per ton while Western Rail was selling at $10.05 per short ton and Eastern Rail was selling at $41.33 per short ton.

Natural gas prices on the Henry Hub finished the week down $2.79 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 2.58 trillion cubic feet in storage. This week’s working natural gas rotary rig count remained at 863 up by one from last week and  down by 1,012 rigs from a year ago – down 54%. This number includes rigs working in both oil and gas plays.

A Response to Pope Francis’ Encyclical On Faith, the Environment and the Modern Industrial Economy

By BILL RANEY, president

West Virginia Coal Association

Today, Pope Francis issued a call for major changes in our lifestyles and our energy

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      Bill Raney

consumption as part of a worldwide effort to combat climate change. Francis based his call on the duty of man to act as good stewards towards God’s creation.

I agree with the Pope that mankind has a duty to act as good stewards of this world God has entrusted to our keeping.  And, I feel many aspects of today’s modern America indicate we have, as best as we can with human frailty, been good stewards.  I would point to the fact that the modern industrial economy has created the greatest standards of living the world has ever known.

Today, we have fewer people working in agriculture than any time in the history of the world, but more than enough food to feed the planet. We have conquered diseases, alleviated poverty from much of the world and we have increased human life spans exponentially.

There are many reasons for these improvements, but none, perhaps as vivid, as the electrification of parts of our world, which came most successfully with the continued and improved use of fossil fuels.  I am concerned the Pope does not acknowledge that with his challenge to all of us to improve the way we use the indigenous resources our Lord has blessed us with in this world.

In other examples of progressive stewardship, we have some of the most verdant and healthy forests in the world, our streams and air are cleaner today than they were 50, 75 or 100 years ago.  And this is in spite of having more than six billion people on this earth.

I absolutely agree that we all need to do everything possible to alleviate poverty and the suffering that accompanies it.  In my mind, that is doing everything we can to insure that everyone who can physically work has a job, as opposed to advocating policies that put skilled, professional coal miners out of work.

I wish Pope Francis would have traveled to Logan, Mingo or any of our other West Virginia counties where miners have been put out of work because of the uncertainty created by polices that mandate impossible requirements that reach beyond today’s technology.  The suffering of that unemployment is vivid, stark and extremely concerning.

As someone who has been so blessed to be a part of this country’s coal industry for many years, I have watched the hard work and pride our people put into the fulfilling our responsibility as stewards of our Earth’s resources, I can say unequivocally that our coal miners are the greatest practicing environmentalists in the world.

I invite the Pope to come to West Virginia and take a look at the wonderful work our people are doing.  I am confident he would be impressed by both the work and by the people doing the work.