About 75% of U.S. coal exports were shipped to Europe and Asia in 2012, continuing the growth of the past few years with exports this year expected to reach an all-time high. Despite growing demand in Asia, the United States exports slightly more coal to Europe than it sends the rest of the world combined. U.S. coal exports to Europe are primarily serviced out of the East Coast via Norfolk, Virginia (the largest coal export facility in the United States) and Baltimore, Maryland (the third largest). Exports to Asia originate mostly from the East Coast as well, primarily out of Baltimore. Somewhat counterintuitively, most coal out of Baltimore—almost double the port’s European volume—is destined for Asia, the world’s largest coal consuming region.
One reason eastern seaports are the primary origin of U.S. coal exports to Asia is their proximity to U.S. metallurgical (met) coal mines, concentrated in the eastern United States. While U.S. exports to Europe are closely split between met and steam coal (used to generate electricity), Asia primarily imports met coal, which is used in steelmaking. The unavailability of significant capacity limits exports from the western United States, the country’s largest coal producing region, although the Seattle customs district has seen rapid growth over the past several years exporting steam coal via rail to Canada, where it is then shipped to Asia.
via Europe and Asia are the leading destinations for U.S. coal exports in 2012 – Today in Energy – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Categories: Electricity, Energy