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EIA forecasts 2020 coal production lowest since 1973

Highlights

EIA forecast power consumption below 500 million st

Coal exports forecast to drop 10.6% in 2020 on year

Houston — US coal production is expected to be about 597 million st in 2020, down 13.5% from the estimated 2019 output of 690 million st, the Energy Information Administration's Short-Term Energy Outlook reported Tuesday.

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The 2019 estimate was down 8.4% from 2018 production of 754 million st, and it was the first time, since S&P Global Platts began recording in 2013, output was forecast below 600 million st.

The last time the US produced less than 600 million st was in 1973, when output totaled about 599 million st.

For 2021, the EIA projected output of about 581 million st, the least amount of output since 1971.

Coal exports for 2020 were projected to total 82.6 million st, compared with estimated exports of 92.4 million st in 2019. Exports in 2021 are projected to be 83.2 million st.

Annual US exports have not been lower since they totaled 60.3 million st in 2016.

Power sector consumption was forecast to total just about 480 million st in 2020, down 11.9% from 2019 consumption, and about 464 million st in 2021.

This year is the first year projected to have power sector consumption below 500 million st since Platts began collecting data in 2015.

Total US consumption was forecast to be about 532 million st in 2020, down 10.9% from the 2019 estimate of 596 million st. The EIA 2021 forecast was about 514 million st.

Compared with US coal-powered estimated generation share of 24% in 2019, the January EIA report projected the coal generation share of 21% in 2020 and 22% in 2021.

The natural gas generation share for 2020 was projected to be 38%, up one percentage point from 2019 and the 2021 forecast.

The EIA forecast gas production at 102 Bcf/d for 2020 in January, up from 2019 estimated production of about 99 Bcf/d, and the first time forecast gas output reached over 100 Bcf/d. The 2021 projection was relatively flat to 102 Bcf/d. Power sector consumption for 2020 was forecast to be 31.4 Bcf/d, up 7% from 2019 consumption, and 30.5 Bcf/d in 2021.