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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 66 (1982)

Issue: 11. (November)

First Page: 2483

Last Page: 2488

Title: Developments in Coal in 1981

Author(s): Samuel A. Friedman (2)


United States coal production was 820 million short tons in 1981, down 1% from 1980, partly due to a 72-day labor strike. The 5 leading states, in sequence, in coal production in 1981 were Kentucky, West Virginia, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. United States coal export of 113 million short tons in 1981 was a new record high and a 23% increase over 1980. A majority (59%) of this coal was exported for metallurgical use, but coal exported for electricity generating plants continued to increase sharply.

About 4/5 of the 1981 production was shipped to utilities, which rely on coal for 53% of their fuel (2% more than in 1980). United States consumption of 729 million tons in 1981 was a moderate 4% increase over 1980.

As usual, most of the coal was shipped to market by railroad or truck in 1981, but ocean vessels and river barges showed a dramatic rise in the quantity they carried. In particular, the Port of New Orleans in 1981 registered a 300% increase over the quantity of coal it transferred in 1980.

The Coal Division of the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Dept. of Energy reported that the demonstrated reserve base of coal, as of January 1, 1980, was 473 billion short tons (12% of the identified remaining coal resources).

The utilities spent a reported $33.2 billion on capital items, most of which probably involved coal-fired generators. Inflation took its toll on real profits from production as mine operators strained to stay out of the red. Federal funding for synfuels research, other coal research, and coal resource mapping slowed noticeably. However, there was an increased use of coal to provide feedstock for organic chemicals.

Railroad owners continued to oppose coal-slurry pipeline construction. The pipeline entrepreneurs have caused a new bill to be introduced in the U.S. Congress to permit coal-slurry pipelines to cross railroad rights-of-way by eminent domain, but construction of any pipelines does not appear imminent to this writer.

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