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Short-Term Energy Outlook

Release Date: February 10, 2015  |  Next Release Date: March 10, 2015  |  Full Report    |   Text Only   |   All Tables   |   All Figures

Coal

Total electric power sector coal stocks increased by 6 million short tons (MMst) in November 2014 to 142 MMst at month-end. The increase in coal stocks followed the typical seasonal pattern where coal-fired electric power plants build stocks during the autumn months in preparation for increased coal consumption during the winter. Despite the increase, end-of-November 2014 stocks were 14 MMst (9%) below a year ago and 21% lower than the previous five-year (2009-13) average for November.

Coal Supply

EIA estimates that coal production for 2014 totaled 997 MMst, 13 MMst (1%) higher than in 2013. EIA expects that annual production will decline in both 2015 and 2016, totaling 966 MMst and 960 MMst, respectively.

Coal Consumption

Electric power sector coal consumption was largely unchanged in 2014 compared with the previous year. Power sector coal consumption is projected to decrease by 1.5% in 2015, despite an increase in electricity demand, as natural gas prices decline relative to coal prices and retirements of coal power plants rise in response to the implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. The full effect of the coal plant retirements will be felt in 2016, as projected electric power sector coal consumption declines by an additional 0.6%.

Coal Trade

Coal exports in 2014 were estimated at 97 MMst, a 17% decline from 2013. The decline was primarily a result of slowing world coal demand growth, lower international coal prices, and increasing coal output in other coal-exporting countries. EIA expects no significant change in global market conditions, and coal exports will fall 15% to 82 MMst in both 2015 and 2016.

Coal Prices

The annual average coal price to the electric power industry fell from a record-high $2.39/MMBtu in 2011 to an estimated $2.35/MMBtu in 2014. EIA expects the delivered coal price to average $2.33/MMBtu in 2015 and $2.34/MMBtu in 2016.

U.S. Coal Summary
  2013 2014 2015 2016
Prices (dollars per million Btu)
Electric Power Sector 2.35 2.35 2.33 2.34
Supply (million short tons)
U.S. Coal Production 983.9 996.7 966.4 960.3
Imports 8.9 11.9 11.0 10.8
Exports 117.7 97.2 82.3 81.9
Consumption (million short tons)
Electric Power Sector 858.4 854.3 841.1 835.7
Other Sectors 66.8 65.9 64.3 65.4
Total Consumption 925.1 919.6 905.4 901.1
End of Period Inventories (million short tons)
Electric Power Sector 148.0 139.3 134.8 135.3
Total Inventories 197.5 189.9 187.4 186.5

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