8:07p ET February 6, 2013 (Dow Jones)
U.S. Coal Exports to Europe Surge
By Keith Johnson
NEWPORT NEWS, Va.--On 67 acres here along the James River, almost 800,000 tons of coal tower in two-story-high stacks, ready to go overseas. The shipping terminal is so busy that this past Christmas Day, workers volunteered for lucrative overtime to load a bulk carrier.
Coal-terminal operator Dominion Terminal Associates, owned by three big mining firms and one of the biggest coal exporters in the U.S., stands at the center of a surprising boom.
For U.S. coal-mining firms Peabody Energy Inc., Arch Coal Inc. and Alpha Natural Resources Inc.--which together own Dominion Terminal Associates--increased exports offer a way to partially offset declining domestic demand.
For all the troubles of the U.S. coal industry at home, its business with the rest of the world is brisk. Last year, the U.S. set a record for coal exports with the final tally estimated to top 120 million tons, double what it exported as recently as 2009.
The boom isn't about feeding the voracious appetites of China and India--not yet. Instead, American coal mined in the eastern U.S. and shipped overseas goes overwhelmingly to Europe, especially the U.K., the Netherlands and Italy.
The U.S. is sending coal to Newcastle, and other English cities where the lights go on thanks to power plants fired by the American imports. 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.
I think the ANALysts who are downgrading ACI fail to see the silver lining in exports which can lead to upside. It will not happen in one year but in three years it should happen, By then the coal faced punk in the White home should be out.