According to the Economist, Jan 5-11 issue, European coal demand will drop substantially by 2015 due to environmental regs. Those same regs are spurring demand now as plants to be closed are operating more hours than normal until they have to be shut down. Alternative to closing plant is to install expensive pollution equipment.
Meanwhile ships are lining up at Hampton Roads to carry six times more eastern US steam coal to Europe than two years ago. According to the Wall Street Journal, February 7 edition, "British coal consumption for electricity rose about 50% in the third quarter of 2012 compared with 2011. as power producers there found coal cheaper than natural gas .... US coal is finding a ready market in countries where natural gas is three to five times more expensive." WSJ article goes on quote the managing director of a UK coal importer trade group as saying, "tougher environmental rules and coal-plant phase-outs in the UK may start to erode cheap coal's advantage in 2015."