Coal exports for the first six months of 2017 were 58 percent higher than in the same time period last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook.
Steam coal exports increased by 6 million short tons (MMst) and metallurgical coal exports increased by 2 MMst, most of which were shipped from the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico ports with some smaller shipments originating from ports on the Great Lakes and in California.
While EIA’s outlook predicts that coal exports will slow in the coming months with 2017 total exports expected to reach 72 MMst, the market will still be 11 MMst, or 19 percent, higher than 2016 totals.
No coal export facilities are currently under construction due to the export capacity that already exists. Coal export capacity in 2016 reached 257 MMst. Facilities in the Norfolk, Virginia, area alone have the export capacity of 84 MMst, which totaled more than all the 2016 coal exports.
Planned coal export projects across the United States have been stalled, such as a new export facility that had been proposed for Oakland, California, before being challenged by the local government.
At the same time, certain large-scale coal export projects in the Pacific Northwest are still being proposed. The Millennium Bulk Terminal is a planned export facility in Longview, Washington. The state’s Department of Ecology completed a final environmental review of the project earlier this year, and the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers will release its own final environmental review in the coming months.
- On July 24, 2017