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Energy / Coal

  • Buying Coal Stocks Is Still Too Risky: Shorting This One Isn’t

    I have been contributing here for about six months and in that time I have covered most aspects of the energy markets, with one glaring exception. Not once have I mentioned coal. There is a good reason for that. I regard coal stocks as inherently too risky and, without wishing to be too blunt, I wouldn’t buy them with somebody else’s money, let alone my own.Risk is a funny thing, or rather our perception of it is. I well remember sitting in a restaurant with a good friend who was horrified by my choice of tuna as an entrée. “Don’t…

  • Coal Exports from West Coast Running Out of Time

    The U.S. is burning coal at a slower rate, due to cheap natural gas and environmental restrictions on air pollution. With utilities unable to justify weighty investments in pollution control technology, they have opted to shift their generation towards natural gas and renewable energy.Not only has this nearly zeroed out U.S. coal imports, the decline of coal-fired power plants is forcing coal producers to look abroad to push their product. For several years, the U.S. has found willing buyers overseas. The total volume of coal exported from American shores jumped almost 45% between 2008 and 2013, a remarkable increase. But…

  • A Flagship U.S. Coal Project Gets Quashed

    Producers in the coal space are desperately looking for answers these days.Miners are trying to find ways to maintain profitability. In the face of falling prices for most grades of coal globally.The effects have been particularly strong in the U.S. Where environmental regulations, and abundant mine supply, have conspired to drop local prices to multi-year lows.And the industry was dealt another blow this week. When a key export project was denied by regulatory authorities, now putting this high-hopes work in jeopardy.The project is a coal terminal on the Pacific coast of Oregon. Advanced over the past two years by Australia's…

  • Ten Facts About Coal You Probably Didn’t Know

    While I’ve been digging into a bunch of different commodities recently, there have been a number of interesting bits and bobs relating to coal that I’ve been squirreling away. Hence, here are ten tidbits that I wanted to share:1) Coal is currently used to meet 30% of global primary energy needs, which is the highest level since 1970. It is used to generate 41% of the world’s electricity and is used in the production of 70% of the world’s steel.2)  According to the World Resources Institute, almost 1,200 coal-fired power plants had been proposed globally in 2012, with China and…

  • Why Appalachian Coal Can’t Compete With Colombia

    Deep in U.S. coal country, people are suffering economically not just from the White House’s determination to reduce America’s dependence on coal, but also because of competition from an unlikely place: Colombia.To be sure, an abundance of cheap natural gas is responsible for most of economic hurt in mining states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Record natural gas production from shale has given utilities a cheaper, and cleaner, fuel.  Also, as Republicans are eager to point out, environmental regulations have put a gradually tightening noose around the neck of Big Coal. With new limits on toxic emissions, and…

  • This Coal Superpower Is Making Big Cuts

    The best time to buy commodities is when most producers are losing money.Such unprofitable periods reliably mark cyclical lows in metals and energy. Because when no one is breaking even, production will inevitably decline--putting supply and demand back in line. And setting the stage for a price rebound.We're seeing this happen in a number of sectors today. Including gold and uranium.But the most acute example is coming from one particularly commodity: coal.And the government of the world's top coal producer, China, last week started making some big moves to fix the situation, according to Platts. Tacitly admitting that the industry…

  • China To Ban Coal Use In Beijing By 2020

    China's decision to ban the use of coal from Beijing and other major cities by 2020 grabbed headlines this week, but experts are saying it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the country's coal consumption.Despite the nation increasing efforts to curb air pollution, demand for the fossil fuel in China is expected to stay steady, as the country's population and economy expand.Coal-fired power and heating is a major generator of greenhouse gases and, according to data from the US Energy Administration (EIA), it has helped turning the Asian giant into the world's largest emitter of carbon and other…

  • Coal Enters New Phase of Insecurity

    Coal is the fastest growing source of energy across the world, as the developing world seemingly puts a new coal-fired power plant into operation as fast as they can build them. Coal provides 40% of the world’s electricity supply, and despite swift gains by renewable energy, it will remain a dominant source of power for the foreseeable future.However, the ubiquity of coal belies the very real cracks in its foundation. Those weaknesses could portend a much graver future for coal than many realize.Investors watching the energy picture in the U.S. are fully aware of the threat posed to coal from…

  • What Green Revolution? Coal Use Highest In 44 Years

    U.S. President Barack Obama may be engaging in a “war on coal” with carbon regulations intended to shrink coal’s share of energy production, but worldwide, coal is in its strongest position in decades. In 2013, enough coal was burned to meet 30.1 percent of the world’s energy demands -- its highest share since 1970, according to new data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy. The findings are striking because of trends that appear to be pushing coal to the sidelines: An abundance of natural gas in the United States has utilities switching away from coal; Europe’s efforts to reduce…

  • Soma Tragedy Won’t Deter Turkey From Coal

    Following the May 13 mine explosion in Soma, Turkey, which killed at least 282 miners and left dozens trapped after the blast, the Turkish government declared three days of mourning.Despite the tragedy, Turkey’s economy remains firmly wedded to the use of coal. Even as Turkey moves towards the construction of its first two nuclear power plants at Akkuyu near the Mediterranean and Sinop on the Black Sea, coal-fired power plants remains an important element in Turkey's electricity generation mix, and will be for the foreseeable future.According to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration, in 2012 Turkey imported 23 percent of…