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US 2021 coal production estimates rise 9.3% on year: EIA

The US is estimated to produce 589.2 million st of coal in 2021, the Energy Information Administration said in a Feb. 9 report, lowering its monthly estimate for the third straight month by roughly 13.4 million st, or 2.2%, from January.

But 2021 production would be 9.3% higher than the estimated 55-year low 539.1 million st produced in 2020, while 2022 production is estimated at 594.1 million st, EIA said in its February Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Power-sector coal consumption is projected to be 474.8 million st in 2021 and 507.1 million st in 2022, up from 436 million st in 2020. Average stockpiles in the electric sector are expected to rise to 142.68 million st in 2021, from 139.41 million st in 2020. Inventories are expected to fall again to 128.2 million st in 2022.

Total consumption, including petcoke plants and retail, is estimated at 513.9 million st in 2021 and 544.5 million st in 2022, up from 476.3 million st in 2020.

Coal is expected to make up 21.4% of US power generation in 2021 and 22.5% in 2022, compared with 19.9% generated from coal in 2020.

Renewables are projected to make up 21.3% of the stack in 2021 and 22.6% in 2022, up from 19.7% in 2020.

Power generation from natural gas is estimated at 36.7% in 2021 and 35.3% in 2022, compared with 39.3% in 2020.

The estimated decrease in natural gas generation, which is forecast to average 90.5 Bcf/d in 2021 and 90.95 Bcf/d in 2022, both down from the 91.3 Bcf/d 2020 average, is largely from a drop in dry gas production and rising gas prices.

The EIA projects the spot Henry Hub gas price to average $3.07/MMBtu this year and $3.40/MMBtu in 2022, from $2.11/MMBtu in 2020.

Exports projected to rise from a four-year low

Coal exports are projected to be at 84.9 million st in 2021, up from a four-year low 68.4 million st in 2020. Exports are expected to rise again in 2022 to 90.7 million st.

Thermal coal export volumes are estimated at 33 million st in 2021 and 35.6 million st in 2022, up from 26.8 million st in 2020.

The remaining 51.9 million st in 2021 are expected to be metallurgical coal exports, while 2022 exports are projected at 55.1 million st. In 2020, the US exported roughly 41.7 million st of met coal.

Exports are expected to make up 14.4% of the total US coal production in 2021 and 15.3% in 2022, up from 12.7% in 2020, according to EIA data.
Source: Platts

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