COMPANY ACTIVITY

Consol ropes in records for 2011

WITH a fiscal year marked with record net income, sales revenue, operations cash flow and overseas coal sales and a final quarter reporting an 87% spike in earnings, Pennsylvania producer Consol Energy described 2011 as a year of opportunities.

Donna Schmidt
Consol ropes in records for 2011

For the fourth quarter ended December 31, the company reported earnings of $US196 million, a rise year-on-year from $104 million.

Revenues in the period also rose by more than 13% to $1.54 billion.

Fourth-quarter coal prices were 12% higher than average, compared to 2010 and the company’s coal division generated more cash from its met business than from its thermal business for the third quarter in a row.

Consol recorded 1.4 million tons of low-volatile coal production in the final quarter, 1.2Mt of high-volatile and 12.7Mt of thermal, for a combined 15.3Mt.

Looking whole-year for 2011, the producer achieved a record net income of $632 million as well as record sales revenue of $5.7 billion, a 14% jump over $5 billion in 2010.

Cash flow from operations was up 36% from $1.1 billion in 2010 to $1.5 billion in 2011.

Consol coal headed for global destinations was also on the rise over last year.

Officials said its Baltimore terminal shipped an all-time record of 12.6Mt in 2011, beating a 1995 record of 12.4Mt.

Also meeting a record high were overseas coal sales, which totaled 11.4Mt versus 6.8Mt in 2010 – a 68% spike.

“In our coal division for 2011, we were able to combine reliable operations with astute marketing to generate record net income,” chairman J Brett Harvey said.

“For Consol, 2011 was a year characterized by our ability to seize opportunities and, in some cases, to create opportunities."

Harvey said that 2011 was the company’s safest year to date.

“The one fatality, however, indicates that we have work to do to get to absolute zero,” he said.

While ending the year on a high, Consol tempered its optimism a bit with regards to its spending outlook for this year in both the gas and coal arms.

Officials said the decision was primarily due to mild weather and high production as well as lower prices on the gas side.

For its coal operations, the company said it would postpone some “efficiency projects” and reduced capital spending to about $44 million, though executives said they would continue to monitor the markets in 2012.

Consol’s low-volatile marketing provided for yet another record in 2011, that being all-time high revenues for its Buchanan complex in Virginia.

“During the fourth quarter, two cargoes of a new high ash product were sold to China, opening up potentially new markets,” officials said.

“Additionally, 302,000 tons were booked for 2012 and 654,000 tons were re-priced.”

Pricing for that classification was $180 per ton free-on-board mine on average and the company said Buchanan was already 70% sold for this year.

Consol continues to work on the development of the high-volatile product from its Bailey complex, as it is now included in coking blends across four continents and is being tested for use at additional locations.

It projected 2012 high-volatile sales volumes to exceed the 4.8Mt it shipped in 2011.

Consol’s thermal output is almost sold out for the year, and during the final 2011 quarter it repriced 7.5Mt at an improved $64.22/t.

Finally, it committed 2.15Mt of additional export thermal coal in its European thermal market after the inking of two multi-year deals, 352,000t of which would be delivered this year.

For 2012, the producer is projecting 9-11Mt of coal will be exported across all sales categories.

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