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US coal production expected to total 773.2 million st in 2018: EIA

Houston — The US is estimated to produce 773.2 million st of coal in 2018, up 2.2% from the previous monthly forecast of 756.2 million st and the highest estimate of the year, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.

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The 2018 figure would be 0.2% higher than the 772 million st produced in 2017, the first year-over-year increase for the monthly forecast this year, while 2019 production is estimated at 746.2 million st, up 1.1% from the previous projection, the EIA said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Power-sector coal consumption is projected to total 641 million st in 2018 and 611.3 million st in 2019, compared with 664 million st in 2017.

Total consumption, including by petcoke plants and retail, is estimated at 691.6 million st in 2018 and 661.6 million st in 2019, down from 718.1 million st consumed in 2017.

Coal is expected to make up 28.2% of US power generation and 27.2% in 2019, down from 30.1% generated from coal in 2018.

Power generation from natural gas is estimated at 34.1% in 2018 and 34.8% in 2019, up from 30.1% in 2017.

The increase is largely from cheaper gas prices and a boost in dry gas production, which is forecast to average 81.3 Bcf/d in 2018 and 84.5 Bcf/d in 2019, up from 73.56 Bcf/d averaged in 2017.

The EIA projects the spot Henry Hub gas price to average $2.99/MMBtu this year and $3.04/MMBtu in 2019, compared with $3.10/MMBtu in 2017.

Coal exports are projected to be 104 million st in 2018 and 98.7 million st in 2019, up from 97 million st exported in 2017. The estimated 104 million st would be the highest since 118 million st was exported in 2013.

Thermal coal export volumes are estimated at 46.1 million st in 2018 and 43.1 million st in 2019, up from 41.7 million st in 2017.

The remaining 57.9 million st in 2018 are expected to be metallurgical coal exports, while 2019 exports are projected at 55.6 million st. In 2017, the US exported 55.3 million st of met coal.

--Tyler Godwin, tyler.godwin@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com