July 21, 2024
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ELECTRICITY OIL & GAS

Collapse of Baltimore Bridge Threatens US Coal Exports – EIA Warns

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has issued a warning that coal exports from the United States could see a decline due to the suspension of marine traffic from the port of Baltimore following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

The Port of Baltimore, known for its proximity to the northern Appalachia coal fields, has been a key hub for coal exports.

However, the bridge collapse has disrupted export activities, limiting options for coal miners, including Consol Energy, which operates an export terminal at the port.

“An attractive feature of the Port of Baltimore is its proximity to the northern Appalachia coal fields in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia,” the EIA said.

“Other nearby ports, most notably Hampton Roads, have additional capacity to export coal, although factors including coal quality, pricing, and scheduling will affect how easily companies can switch to exporting from another port,” the authority added.

OilPrice.com says the port of Baltimore handled approximately 28% of total US coal exports last year, with the average annual volume reaching around 20 million short tons over the past few years.

However, the closure of the port could significantly impact coal exports, potentially wiping out millions of tons in exports.

While alternative export terminals exist, such as Hampton Roads, logistical challenges including coal quality, pricing, and scheduling may hinder the ability of companies to switch to other ports seamlessly.

Additionally, limited storage capacity at alternative terminals may further exacerbate the situation, making it difficult for coal producers to export their products until the port reopens and traffic normalizes.

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