By Tyler Godwin
June 11, 2020 - Coal deliveries from Central Appalachia mines to US power plants fell to 3.8 million st in the first quarter of 2020, down 3.9% from 4.34 million st delivered in the previous quarter and 9% lower than the year-ago quarter, according to US Energy Information Administration data.
Over 1.31 million st of CAPP coal was delivered to power plants in March, up 21.1% from February but 4.9% lower than the year-ago month.
Average delivered costs to regulated plants were at $71.01/st in Q1, down from $75.69/st in Q4 and $80.76/st in the year-ago quarter, according to the EIA data.
In Q1, total CAPP coal deliveries had an average heat content of 12,247 Btu/lb and an average sulfur content of 1.7 lbs SO2/MMBtu, compared with 12,347 Btu/lb and 1.8 lbs SO2/MMBtu a year earlier.
Contract deliveries, or purchases with a term of one year or longer, were at 2.73 million st in Q1, down from 3.23 million st in the prior quarter and 3.39 million st in Q1 2019.
Spot purchases, or contract deliveries less than one year, were at 935,449 st in the latest quarter, down from 1.11 million st in Q4 and 1.55 million st a year earlier.
Despite the lower spot and contract deliveries, new contracts purchases rose to 137,216 st in Q1, up from zero in Q4 and 107,915 st in the year-ago quarter.
Duke Energy, through its subsidiaries Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress, signed one-year deals with six suppliers totaling 99,618 st in Q1, as well as a two-year deal with Contura Energy for 26,012 st in Q1. The remaining 11,586 st was a one-year deal between Tennessee Valley Authority and Nally and Hamilton.
Rail deliveries made up 2.88 million st in Q1, down from 3.46 million st in Q4 and 3.7 million st in the year-ago quarter. Barge deliveries were at 631,255 st, down from 696,855 st in the previous quarter and 1.05 million st in Q1 2019, while truck-delivered coal was at 288,811 st, up from 181,797 st in Q4 but down from 298,631 st a year ago.
West Virginia mines in Central Appalachia delivered 1.8 million st of coal to power plants in Q1, down from 2.4 million st in Q4 and 2.57 million st a year earlier. However, Kentucky mines in CAPP delivered 1.5 million st of coal to the electric sector in Q1, up from 1.43 million st in Q4 and 1.46 million st in the year-ago quarter.
Virginia mines shipped 372,685 st to plants in Q1, up from 255,013 st in Q4, but down from 535,230 st in the year-ago quarter. Alabama and Tennessee mines delivered 95,357 st and 39,644 st in Q1, compared with 215,360 st and 32,084 st, respectively, in Q4, and 424,483 st and 60,331 st a year earlier.
Contura Energy Takes Over as Largest Supplier
Contura Energy took over as the largest supplier of CAPP coal in Q1, with deliveries of 544,188 st, down from 559,366 st in Q4 and 470,967 st in the year-ago quarter. Blackhawk Mining's CAPP deliveries fell to 475,846 st in the latest quarter, down from 664,975 st in Q4 and 548,697 st in Q1 2019.
Duke Energy Carolinas remained the largest operator of Central Appalachia coal in Q1, taking delivery of 1.12 million st in Q1, down from 1.33 million st in Q4 and 1.02 million st in the year-ago quarter.
South Carolina Public Service Authority and Appalachian Power Company rounded out the top three with CAPP deliveries of 427,198 st and 375,421 st, respectively, compared with 323,166 st and 433,612 st in Q4 and 165,919 st and 720,723 st a year ago.