Consol revenue jumps in third quarter

COAL was the key to Consol Energy’s performance and record revenues in the third quarter even though the company also reported a notable increase in gas production.

Donna Schmidt

For the period ended September 30, the Pennsylvania-based producer posted a record $US1.319 billion in revenue, 23% more than the $1.069 billion it reported for the same quarter last year. Its coal division contributed a record $1.019 billion towards the total, compared to $837 million a year ago.

“In our coal division, the quality of our low-vol met coal, high-vol met coal and thermal coal assets continues to generate superior results,” Consol said, noting that 2010 was its first year ever – in a history exceeding 150 years – to sell product to customers on four continents.

“Margins for our low-vol and high-vol coals have expanded this year and, while the regulatory environment continues to change, we are committed to leading the industry in adapting to those changes.”

Cash generation in the third quarter totaled $291 million on 14.7 million tons of production and 15.6Mt of sales. During the next period, Consol will seek to maintain its current production levels while focusing on margin growth.

Another major area of concentration for the producer is the permitting and development of its planned Bailey longwall mine expansion in Pennsylvania. Beginning in late 2013 or early 2014, Consol is expecting the already large operation to produce 5Mt per annum, and its output will be shipped to Asian and Brazilian steel mills as well as European and domestic generators.

The company’s Baltimore Terminal in Maryland has also been hard at work. In the third quarter, the facility loaded 33 vessels for a total tonnage of 2.7Mt, a year-on-year increase of 900,000t. A record 1.3Mt was shipped in August alone.

“The 33 vessels also included a record 11 Capesize vessels,” Consol said, noting that about 1.6Mt was shipped to Asia, 700,000t to Europe and 400,000t to South America.

Consol is aiming to ship 4.9Mt of low-vol met coal from its Buchanan complex during 2010.

Looking at its high-vol met coal product, the company is working towards its goal of selling 2.7Mt for the whole of 2010 at an average realized price of about $76/t.

Inventories for thermal coal dropped during the third period by 800,000t, with the producer citing warmer-than-normal temperatures across most of the US for the change.

“Utility stockpiles in most of our major market areas returned to normal during the summer heating season,” Consol said.

“Shipments in the quarter increased by 1 million tons year-over-year to 13.9 million despite the idling of Mine 84 and the sale of Jones Fork.”

Production for the quarter was broken down into 1.3Mt low-vol, 400,000t high-vol and 13Mt thermal for a total of 14.7Mt.

Of the thermal coal production, 11.5Mt came from northern Appalachia, 1.3Mt originated in central Appalachia, and Western Bituminous totaled 200,000t.

“For the fourth quarter of 2010, the coal division plans to produce 16.5 million tons and sell at least 17 million tons,” Consol said.

“[We expect] to produce and sell between 59 and 61 million tons in both 2011 and 2012.”