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EIA Forecasts U.S. Coal Production to Drop 2.7% on Year in 2019



By Olivia Kalb

August 7, 2019 - The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast coal production totaling 688 million st in 2019, down 2.7% from the year-ago production, the EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook reported Tuesday.

August's forecast for 2019 output was up 0.6% from July's forecast, and the first increase in four months.

The 2020 projection increased, as well, from the prior month's forecast by 1.8% and the EIA now forecasts 651 million st in output next year.

This was the highest 2020 output projection since March when the EIA forecast about 664 million st next year.

Coal exports for this year were projected to total 100 million st in the August report, up 4.1% from the July report and the first time the export forecast has reached 100 million st or above since April. From 2018 exports, the EIA projects a 13.5% drop.

In 2020, the EIA forecast 90.4 million st of exports, down 9.6% from the 2019 projection and up 3% from the previous month's forecast.

August was the first time in five months the EIA increased its 2020 export projection.

Power sector consumption was forecast to total just over 538 million st this year, down 15.5% from 2018 consumption, and about 525 million st next year, down 2.3% from the 2019 projection.

Total U.S. consumption was forecast to be 589 million st in 2019, down 14.4% from the previous year. The EIA 2020 forecast was about 576 million st, down 2.3% from the 2019 forecast.

Compared with U.S. coal-powered generation of 27.4% in 2018, the EIA projected coal generation share of 24% in 2019 and 24% in 2020, both flat from the previous month's forecast.

Natural gas generation's share for 2019 was projected to be 37% in the most recent STEO, down one percentage point from the July forecast.

The 2020 generation forecast was 36%, down from July's projection of 37% and the second time the gas power share forecast has dropped month over month since the December 2018 STEO.

The EIA forecast gas production at 91 Bcf/d for 2019 in August, which would be up 9.2% from 2018 production, while the 2020 forecast was 92.5 Bcf/d, up 1.6% from the 2019 forecast. Power sector consumption this year was predicted to be 30.57 Bcf/d, up 3.7% from 2018 consumption, and 29.56 Bcf/d in 2020, down 3.3% year on year.