According to a recently released report by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 76% of US coal exports in 2011 went to European and Asian markets.
European markets have long been a major destination for US coal exports, but the share going to Asian markets in particular has grown significantly over the last few years in response to increased demand from South Korea, China and India. Rising demand from both Europe and Asia saw a 31% increase in the total amount of coal exported by the US, bringing the total up to 107 million tons.
Metallurgical coal was in great demand across European, Asian and South American markets. Metallurgical coal accounted for the vast majority of US coal exports in 2011 with approximately 70 million tons exported gobally in contrast to approximately 38 million tons of steam coal exported globally.
Europe received total coal exports of 53 941 906 tons, a figure made up of 34 306 669 tons of metallurgical coal and 19 635 237 tons of steam coal. Asia received 19 707 345 tons of metallurgical coal and 7 825 265 tons of steam coal making a total of 27 532 610 tons.
As well as rising demand, the EIA references several other major factors that contributed to increased US exports in 2011:
- Domestic US coal use fell by 4.6%.
- US coal production increased by 0.9%.
- Several international supply disruptions impacted major supply routes from Australia, Indonesia and Columbia, meaning that Asian importers had to source coal from elsewhere.
- Natural gas prices rose by 35% in Europe, causing energy suppliers to move to coal.
Adapted from a press release by David Bizley