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Responders with the Unified Command conduct an overflight assessment of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, March 29, 2024. The Key Bridge was struck by the Singapore-flagged cargo ship Dali early morning on March 26, 2024. (Unified Command courtesy photo)

Responders with the Unified Command conduct an overflight assessment of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, March 29, 2024. Unified Command Photo

U.S. Coal Exports Expected to Take Big Hit from Baltimore Port Closure

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1669
April 9, 2024

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has significantly lowered its forecast for U.S. coal exports due to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and subsequent closure of the Port of Baltimore.

The EIA had initially projected an increase of about 1% in U.S. coal exports for 2024. However, the latest data from the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook report projects exports will decrease of 6% from 2023’s coal export totals.

The Port of Baltimore, ranking as the second-largest coal export hub in the United States, saw an estimated 28.1 million short tons of coal transported through its facilities in 2023 and represented about 28% of total U.S. coal exports.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers anticipates a partial reopening of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry Channel to a 35-foot depth by the end of April, with full reopening of the 50-foot-deep channel expected by the end of May. Two temporary alternative channels have already been established through the wreck site, with depths limited to 11 and 14 feet, respectively.

EIA’s Administrator, Joe DeCarolis, said they expect U.S. coal exports to recover later this year, but any recovery will ultimately depend on the reopening of the deeper draft channel.

“We expect U.S. coal exports to recover toward the end of the summer or early fall, but there is significant uncertainty based on the timeline for the port reopening and how quickly exporters can adjust to export through alternative ports,” said DeCarolis.

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