The U.S. Energy Information Administration trimmed expectations for domestic coal production in 2019 by about 2.0% compared to an outlook released in August.
Total coal production for 2019 is expected to total 673.9 million tons in 2019, down from the 687.9 million tons of production forecasted in the August edition of its “Short Term Energy Outlook.” Coal production is expected to fall even further in 2020 to 617.3 million tons, a decrease of 18.3% compared to production levels reported in 2018.
The EIA expects the share of U.S. generation from coal will average just 25% in 2019 and 22% in 2020, down from 28% in 2018. As coal generation drops, natural gas and renewable energy resources are expected to gain a larger share of total generation.
Coal consumption in the U.S. is expected to total 593.4 million tons in 2019 and 548.4 million tons in 2020, a decline from 687.3 million tons in 2018. Meanwhile, the export markets for coal is expected to weaken going forward as higher freight costs and uncertainty in metallurgical coal markets dampen international demand for coal.
The EIA projects Central Appalachia coal production will fall from 200.1 million tons of in 2018 to 183.0 million tons in 2019 before falling even further to 151.1 million tons in 2020. Western coal production is expected to drop off from 418.3 million tons in 2018 to 363.6 million tons in 2019 before falling to 338.6 million tons in 2020. Coal from the Interior of the U.S. is expected to decline from 137.1 million tons to 127.4 million tons between last year and 2019, but then remains roughly level at 127.7 million tons of production in 2020, according to the EIA forecast.
The outlook also suggests a significant decline in total exports, dropping 18.5% to 94.2 million tons for 2019 before falling another 9.0% to 85.7 million tons in 2020. Both metallurgical and steam coal exports are expected to decline year-over-year in 2019 and 2020.