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Weak outlook for U.S. coal exports
Speakers at the American Coal Council’s annual coal-trading conference said a slowdown in global economic growth, rising trade tensions, and domestic political uncertainty imperil recent gains in U.S. coal exports.
U.S.-China trade war is hurting American coal exports
The trade dispute between the U.S. and China is hurting American coal exporters, who have seen Chinese demand for U.S. coal fizzle after two years of strong gains. The recent trend may be difficult to reverse, in part because China has so many other options: “The risk for U.S. energy exporters is that markets, once lost, are difficult to recover, especially if your customer has readily available alternative sources of supply.”
West Virginia University study sees no regional coal production improvement
A study published by West Virginia University’s Bureau for Business and Economic Research sees falling domestic demand for regionally produced coal. It also raises questions about whether export markets will hold up. “Both of the state’s producing regions will be hurt by weakening domestic demand, but Northern West Virginia faces greater market risk since most of the region’s coal is consumed by U.S. power plants,” one of the report’s authors said. “Southern West Virginia’s production should be buoyed to some extent by export demand, but output is expected to trend lower during the outlook as a growing portion of the region’s reserves become too expensive to recover.”
Uptick in U.S. Coal Exports Leaves Industry Still Well Short of Previous Prosperity
While U.S. coal producers are celebrating a recent uptick in exports, the change is likely to be temporary as buyers in Asia adopt new energy policies, and the improvement is relative: “Exports this year will still be roughly 37 million tons below what they were in 2012, when they peaked at 126 million tons.”
Fact Check: West Virginia’s China Coal Exports
Assertions by President Trump that more “clean coal” is being exported from West Virginia to China as a result of his policies are not supported by fact: “Trump's claim is based on some factual information, namely that coal exports to China have increased in 2017. But his claims of coal cleanliness, his taking of credit and his suggestion that things are changing in West Virginia just don't hold up.”
Update: Last of Six Proposed West Coast Coal-Export Terminals Is Abandoned
Since 2010, six new coal-export terminals have been proposed for shipment of coal from Montana and Wyoming to overseas markets. Five were abandoned for an assortment of regulatory and economic reasons. Now the sixth has been dropped.