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Coal export growth will slow as year goes on, EIA says


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Coal exports in the first quarter were 58 percent higher than a year ago, but growth for the remainder of the year should slow, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday, July 18.

That is in line with comments made previously by spokesmen for CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads, each of which operates a major export terminal on the East Coast.

The EIA estimated the total exports for 2017 will be about 72 million tons, which would be 11 million tons more than last year, or about 19 percent.

Even with the year-over-year increase, U.S. coal export terminals are operating well below capacity, the EIA said. Coal export capacity is about 257 million tons. Facilities at Norfolk, Va., can handle 84 million tons per year, which is greater than the entire amount forecast for this year, the EIA said. Terminals at Baltimore can handle 29 million tons, the EIA said.

Smaller amounts of coal are exported through the Great Lakes, the Gulf Coast and the Pacific Coast, the EIA said.

A few years ago, several rail-to-ocean docks were planned for the Pacific Coast to take advantage of production from the Powder River Basin. One at Longview, Wash., would handle 28 million to 49 million tons per year as it is developed in stages. It is in the environmental review stage of planning.

Developers of the terminal proposed for Morrow, Ore., have canceled the project. Development work on a terminal at Cherry Point, Wash., has ended after developers withdrew permit applications. Another terminal is planned for Oakland, Calif., but it is being challenged by local government agencies.

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