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U.S. Coal Exports To Europe Soar Despite Energy Transition

In the 12 months since the European Union sanctioned Russian coal in the third-quarter of 2022, U.S. coal exports to Europe have increased 22%, adding 5.7 million short tons (MMst) in a year, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

In a Thursday data release, the EIA said Europe received one-third of Russia’s total coal exports in 2021, totalling 84.6 MMst, prior to the invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions were implemented in April 2022, exempting pre-existing contracts, which expired in August 2022. The United States, South Africa and Colombia have primarily made up the gap in Russia coal coal exports to Europe since sanctions went into full effect, with the EIA noting that “as a swing, or higher-cost, supplier in the global steam coal markets, the United States was positioned to shift steam coal exports to Europe”. 

The U.S. has also increased coal exports to Asia and South America, while U.S. coal exports to Africa, Australia/Oceania and North America have declined. U.S. coal exports to the European Union are set to continue at pace, with Germany in early October approving a plan to put coal-fired power plants back online until the end of March 2024 in an effort to save natural gas this winter, Reuters reported. On November 1, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner publicly questioned the government’s goal of quitting coal by 2030. 

"Until it is clear that energy is available and affordable, we should end dreams of phasing out electricity from coal in 2030," Lindner said in an interview with the German daily Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, as reported by VOA

"Now is not the time to shut down power plants," he added.

Germany is hoping to produce 80% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on November 02 2023 said:
    Since sanctions were imposed on Russia in the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict, the United States has been benefiting handsomely from rising exports of coal, LNG and crude oil to the EU.

    Now we know why the United States has been haranguing the EU about its dependence on Russian piped gas and oil as a threat to Europe’s energy security.

    It would appear that the indispensable super power as it called itself had a sinister master plan of how to achieve two major strategic goals, namely weakening Russia and its closest ally Europe.

    The first goal of weakening Russia started when it refused to address Russian security issues and NATO’s encroachment towards its borders thus prompting Russia to send its troops to Ukraine. The US was aiming to achieve : (1) weaken Russia; (2) weaken the Chinese Russian strategic alliance; and (3) slowdown the transition of the World Oder from a unipolar system led by the United States into a multipolar one being ushered in by the Chinese-Russian alliance.

    The second goal was to weaken its closest ally the EU and make it a vassal of the United States. By persuading the EU to join it in imposing sanctions against Russia and banning its energy exports it benefited greatly from replacing them with its far more expensive LNG, coal and oil and also severing any future EU dependence on Russian energy exports including the sabotaging of both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 based on (on circumstantial evidence).

    While the US succeeded in emaciating the EU’s economies to a level of just 0.8% growth in 2023, it didn’t itself escape huge damage to its own economy in terms of high inflation, collapse of three US commercial banks, economic growth hovering around 1.8% this year and a rising risk of a debt crisis.

    However, it failed miserably in its second strategic goal. Despite the sanctions, Russia’s economy is in a far better shape than the US and EU economies. Moreover, Russia will prevail in Ukraine otherwise the alternative is a nuclear war.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
  • fredric longabard on November 02 2023 said:
    Nothing like reliable energy sources.

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