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Coal inventory does not vary much [ClearOnMoney]
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Coal inventory does not vary much

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Commentary

Coal inventory does not vary much

14 Jun 2012 by Jim Fickett.

Since US coal production is exceeding consumption by a margin that is larger than usual (US coal consumption down 14% from peak), and since there are some reports of electric utilities canceling shipments because they have no room to store the coal, it is worthwhile to look at coal inventory. Unlike natural gas, where the gas stored belongs mainly to producers and distributors, coal inventory belongs mainly to end users, specifically electric utilities.

Here is the coal inventory, again expressed as the 12-month average of stocks divided by the 12-month average of consumption – so a smoothed months-of-supply measure:

The dashed line shows the average over the time period shown. Note that the smoothed measure never deviates far – stocks are always between about 1.6 and 3.4 months' worth. Stocks currently are higher than average, but still not particularly high. In short, inventory is not a big part of adjusting to supply-demand mismatches.