US coal production slipped for the fourth consecutive week in the week ending September 16, but at 15.5 million st it was still 7.2% higher than in the same week of 2016, Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday.
Coal has benefited from a rebound in exports as well as a slight reduction in natural gas output. Natural gas overtook thermal coal as the major supplier for US power generation in 2016, but in the first six months of the year, US natural gas marketed production was down 1.8% on the January-June 2016 total to 13.95 MMcf, EIA data showed.
The weekly thermal coal production data showed output fell from the week ending September 9 in three of the four main production hubs.
Output only strengthened in Wyoming and Montana, the largest region by volume, as production in the week ending September 16 (week 37) rose 0.4% week on week to 7.44 million st. However, on a year-on-year basis, this represented an increase of just 3.7%, well down on the ramp ups in the other three regions.
On an annualized basis, coal output in Wyoming and Montana is set to reach 356.7 million st, an increase of 8.2% on the 2016 total.
Northern Appalachia remained the strongest performing region on an annualized basis, with production of 2.2 million st representing year-on-year growth of 13.1% despite falling 2.2% from the previous week's level.
For the full year, at the current rate Northern Appalachia is set to mine 114.7 million st, an increase of 12.6% on the 2016 total.
Weekly production also fell in the Illinois basin, down 3.4% at 1.91 million st but was still up 11% year on year. However, the annualized total is expected to jump 8.5% to 106.8 million st.
Central Appalachian weekly production fell 3.2% to 1.5 million st. The annualized total is still set to increase 9% to 83.4 million st.
Annualized production for the whole of the US at the end of week 37 was 792.2 million st, which would mark an 8.8% increase on the 2016 total.