Market pressures have affected the entire energy spectrum. Coal, oil, and natural gas have all been impacted by a tepid economy and slow growth in energy demand, forcing rationalization of energy markets. Job losses, bankruptcies, and restructurings have occurred across the oil, natural gas, and coal segments. Business cycles are not new to any of these commodities, of course. The natural gas markets are in need of higher overall prices to support the industry, and this should carry over into coal and provide opportunities for its continued key role in the fuels mix.
However, for coal this cycle is more than another commodity cycle and represents a secular shift. Much of this is driven by the extreme federal regulatory agenda so pointedly focused on coal. The coal sector is confronted with additional regulatory costs and restrictions, in addition to contending with challenging market conditions. Beyond that, state and federal government mandates continue to force coal’s competitors into electricity generation markets, our largest market sector
All of this means less predictability than ever for producers, suppliers, and traders of coal, transportation companies and terminals, and power and industrial plant consumers, along with the many services partners that together make up the coal community.