Politics Blog

U.S. coal use rises a bit as natural gas prices climb

U.S. coal consumption is edging upward, and coal production is expected to follow, according to the November 2013 editiion of the Short-Term Energy Outlook report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That is just one tidbit in the report, which you can read right here, in its entirety. 

Here is the EIA's introductory web page with charts and stuff.

On the other end of the green-black spectrum, the report also notes that wind power will rise to 4 percent of U.S. electricity production in 2014, and there has been "robust growth" in the still-relatively-small solar power sector.

The report also predicts that retail gasoline prices will continue to fall for the rest of the year.

Below are some highlights from the report, via press release from U.S. Energy Information Administration Administrator Adam Sieminski:


“U.S. gasoline prices fell during nine of the last 10 weeks and are expected to keep dropping through the end of the year. Weekly U.S. average regular gasoline retail prices fell from their summer high of $3.68 per gallon in late July to their lowest level so far in 2013 at $3.19 on November 11.”

“EIA expects that falling crude oil prices and a well supplied gasoline market will help drive U.S. retail gasoline prices down further for the remainder of the year, falling to a monthly average of $3.17 per gallon in December.”

Crude Oil:

“As EIA predicted back in March, it appears the United States produced more crude oil in October than it imported for the first time since early 1995. Monthly estimated domestic crude oil output averaged 7.7 million barrels per day in October, which was the highest production for any October in 25 years, while oil imports were 7.6 million barrels per day.”

“The discount of WTI crude oil spot prices to Brent crude oil has widened from just over $3 a barrel in July to $9 in October, as refinery demand has returned to normal, lower seasonal demand levels, and U.S. crude inventories have begun to grow at the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub.  EIA forecasts that growing non-OPEC crude production will continue to outpace refinery demand, leading to an average WTI discount to Brent of $10 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2013 and $8 per barrel in 2014."

“After averaging nearly $103 per barrel for three consecutive months from April to June, Brent crude oil prices increased to around $110 per barrel from July through October as a result of strong U.S. refinery demand and supply disruptions in the Middle East.  EIA expects that growing non-OPEC crude oil production will help drive Brent crude oil prices lower.”

Natural Gas:

“EIA boosted its forecast for U.S. marketed natural gas production by 0.4% this year and nearly 1% for next year, as domestic natural gas output reached record levels during the past several months despite lower gas prices.  Gas from the Marcellus Shale has been the main driver of this production growth.”

“This month’s forecast lowers U.S. natural gas imports by pipeline, mostly from Canada, as domestic gas production increases.”


“The increase in coal consumption this year is mainly due to the electric power sector, which burned more coal because of higher natural gas prices. Most of the growth in coal consumption this year is expected to be met by drawing down 35 million short tons in domestic coal inventories .U.S. coal production is forecast to increase by 2.7% next year as inventories stabilize and coal consumption increases.”


“Electricity generation from renewable energy sources other than hydropower currently accounts for about 6% of total U.S. generation, but renewables play a bigger role in some states.”

“California has experienced strong growth in the use of renewable energy by the power sector. During the first eight months of 2013, renewable energy, including hydropower, supplied 19.1% of total electricity generation in California compared with 12.2% during the same period five years ago. Development of new renewable energy generating capacity has been encouraged by a combination of an aggressive state renewable portfolio standard, continued federal tax credits, and the implementation of a state greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program.”


“Wind power generation is forecast to grow by 17% this year and by nearly 4% in 2014, accounting for more than 4% of total U.S. electricity generation next year.”

“EIA expects continued robust growth in solar power, with solar generation by the U.S. electric power sector increasing 82% this year and jumping another 84% in 2014. However, utility-scale solar power will continue to be a small share of total U.S. electric generation at less than 1%.”

U.S. Liquid Biofuels:

“U.S. ethanol production has recovered from last year’s drought.  Ethanol production increased from an average of 806,000 barrels per day in October 2012 to 892,000 barrels per day this October, and is forecast to grow to 900,000 barrels per day during 2014.“