Thermal Coal Needs May Triple by 2020

Demand for thermal coal in Russia, the world's fifth-largest coal miner, could more than triple by 2020 as the country invests billions of dollars to expand its power network, industry officials said Monday.

Thermal coal supply would rise by more than 50 percent and the proportion of exports in overall output from the world's third-biggest coal exporter would fall, said Vladimir Shchadov, deputy director of the Federal Energy Agency.

"The considerable increase in forecast demand for Russian thermal coal - from 98,4 million tons to 342 million tons in 2020 - will motivate coal producers to increase production at a faster pace," Shchadov told the third Coaltrans conference.

Unified Energy Systems is investing $119 billion by 2010 to upgrade the country's grid. By 2020, coal-fired power will have risen and possibly doubled its share of the country's overall energy output, officials said.

Sergei Shatirov, first deputy chairman of the country's industrial policy committee, said coal's share in Russian energy production would rize to from 38 percent to 40 percent by 2020.

Geoff Crocker, chairman of SUEK AG, the traiding arm of the country's largest coal producer, gave a similar percentage and said rising coal output would be required to meet the addition of 40 to 80 gigawatts of new coal-fired power capacity by 2020.

Most Russian energy is generated from gas. Officials have given coal's current share in energy at either side of 20 percent, well below the world average.

"The general picture is clear: increasing dependence will be on coal-fired generation and the coal share in the fuel market will increase," he said.

Source: "The Moscow Times",  Tuesday, June 19, 2007