US coal production in March continued the industry’s startlingly sharp drop, sinking down 4% on February’s already low figures.
Reports have been surfacing for the past six months, revealing just how quickly the United States is parting ways with coal. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in January that coal production in 2015 had dropped to its lowest levels since 1986, down 10% on 2014 levels to produce only 900 million short tons. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) followed this up in April with a report of its own which showed that US coal production is running 30% below the same period a year earlier, reflecting “an historic shift in both the coal industry and the electric power sector it serves.”
Published earlier this month, therefore, it is unsurprising to find that the EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook reveals coal production in the month of March was down again, producing only 52 million short tons of coal in the month — down 4% on February, and down an impressive 36% on March, 2015.
Furthermore, the EIA forecasts coal production to decrease by 16% in 2016, “which would be the largest annual percentage decline since 1958.”
US Coal Production
In the EIA’s January numbers, the Northern Appalachian Basin, Rocky Mountain region, and Powder River Basin were shown to all have had their production figures fall between 10% and 20%. Only the Illinois Basin increased production levels in 2015, up 8%.
The EIA is now predicting that the Appalachian and Western regions will see production decline by 14% and 20% respectively, and the Interior region will see production fall by 6%, while accounting for 20% of all production in 2016.