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Coal projected to be US’ top generating fuel in 2017: EIA

Coal is projected to provide the majority of US power generation in 2017, retaking the crown from natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s monthly Short Term Energy Outlook.

The agency projects coal will fuel 31.3% of the US’ electricity in 2017 compared with 31.1% for gas.

In 2016, gas surpassed coal as the nation’s primary fuel for the first time, totaling 33.8% of generation compared with 30.4% for coal.

The agency has projected gas to be the top fuel in 2017 in most of their reports so far this year, including June’s edition, but increasing gas prices as well as higher hydro generation have pushed gas below coal for the first time.

The EIA said the averaged delivered price for gas to US utilities through June was $3.59/MMBtu, compared with $2.57/MMBtu during the same period last year.

For comparison, the average delivered price for coal was $2.12/MMBtu during the first half of 2017, compared with $2.14/MMBtu in the year-ago period.

The agency projects the average delivered price for power generation for gas will be $3.61/MMBtu in 2017, and $3.98/MMBtu in 2018.

Gas is projected to fuel 31.4% in 2018, compared with 31.2% for coal.

US coal production is forecast to total 785.5 million st in 2017, up roughly 6.3% from last year. In 2018, the agency estimates US coal production to total 786.7 million st.

Electric power sector coal consumption is projected to total 686.6 million st in 2017, up 1.3% from last year, while consumption in 2018 is projected to total 688.1 million st.

The agency projects coal exports to total 71.9 million st (65.2 million mt) in 2017, up 21.2% from last year, and 63.2 million st (57.3 million mt) in 2018.

Total US dry gas production is projected to average 73.3 Bcf/d in 2017, up 1.4% from last year, and 76.4 Bcf/d in 2018.

Henry Hub spot prices are projected to average $3.22/MMBtu in 2017, and $3.52/MMBtu in 2018. They averaged $2.60/MMBtu in 2016.

Delivered utility coal prices are projected to average $2.15/MMBtu in 2017, and $2.21/MMBtu in 2018, up from $2.12/MMBtu in 2016.

Source: Platts

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