By Tyler Godwin
September 1, 2020 - Northern Appalachian coal deliveries to US power plants fell to 10.23 million st in Q2 2020, down 31.1% from 14.85 million st in Q1 and also down 49% from 20.11 million st delivered a year earlier, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.
The shipments in Q2 were also down 49.2% from the five-year average for the quarter, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in a decrease in US power generation and cutbacks by coal miners. According to EIA data, total US power generation fell to a 17-year low 931.25 TWh in Q2, down from 962.03 TWh in Q1 and the lowest since 922 TWh in Q2 2003.
Despite the lower quarterly totals, June deliveries of NAPP coal to power plants rose to 4.39 million st, up 58.3% from May, but down 33.1% from the year-ago month.
Delivered costs to regulated plants averaged $53.56/st in Q2, down from $54.45/st in Q1 and $56.10/st in the year-ago quarter, according to the EIA data.
NAPP coal deliveries in Q2 had an average heat content of 12,292 Btu/lb and an average sulfur content of 4.9 lbs SO2/MMBtu, compared with 12,124 Btu/lb and 4.9 lbs SO2/MMBtu a year earlier.
Term and Spot Purchases Both Decline
Contract deliveries, or purchases with a term of one year or longer, totaled 9.44 million st in Q2, down from 12.92 million st in Q1 and 18.25 million st in the year-ago quarter.
Spot purchases, or contract deliveries of less than one year, also fell to 787,126 st in the latest quarter, down from 1.18 million st in Q1 and 1.86 million st a year earlier.
There were no new contract purchases in Q2, compared with 754,555 st in Q1 and zero in the year-ago quarter.
Barge deliveries fell to 5.75 million st in Q2, from 7.35 million st in Q1, and 10.04 million st a year ago. Rail deliveries also slid to 2.4 million st, from 4.42 million st in Q1 and 6.67 million st in Q2 2019.
Roughly 973,796 st was delivered by truck in Q2, down from 1.77 million st in the prior quarter and 1.79 million st in the year-ago quarter, while 1.11 million st was moved by conveyor, down from 1.31 million st in Q1 and 1.61 million st a year ago.
Mines in the West Virginia part of Northern Appalachia delivered 5.24 million st of coal to power plants in Q2, down from 6.02 million st in Q1 and 8.9 million st in the year-ago quarter. Pennsylvania's mines delivered 3.38 million st of coal to the generation sector in the latest quarter, down from 6 million st in Q1 and 7.07 million st a year ago.
Ohio coal mines shipped 1.15 million st to power plants, down from 2.4 million st in Q1 and 3.59 million st in Q2 2019, while Maryland coal mine deliveries were at 462,297 st, up from 428,575 st in Q1 but down from 546,770 st a year earlier.
McElroy Takes Over as Largest Supplying Mine
Murray Energy's McElroy mine took over as the largest supplier of NAPP coal to power plants in Q2, shipping over 1.58 million st, up 44% from 1.1 million st in Q1, but lower than the 1.97 million st in the year-ago quarter. Consol Energy's Bailey mine slid to second with deliveries of 1.54 million st in Q2, down from 3.34 million st in Q1 and 4.46 million st a year ago.
Including McElroy, three of the top 14 mines saw a quarterly increase in deliveries, along with Alliance Resource Partners' Mettiki mine, which was up 25.6% at 354,129 st, and Schuylkill Energy Resources' St Nicholas Cogeneration plant, at 353,049 st, up 4.6% from Q1.
The Gavin Power Plant in Gallia County, Ohio, remained the largest power plant to receive NAPP coal. The 2,600-MW plant, which is mostly served by Murray Energy, took delivery of 771,071 st in Q2, down from 1.66 million st in Q1 and 2 million st in Q2 2019.
Just three of the top 10 power plants to receive NAPP coal saw quarterly increases in Q2, which were American Electric Power's John E. Amos plant at 696,027 st, up 63.8%; FirstEnergy's Fort Martin Power Station at 508,854 st, up 16.2%; and Dominion Energy's Mount Storm Power Station at 464,931 st, up 8.8%. All three of the plants are located in West Virginia.