(EnergyAsia, March 14 2013, Thursday) — US coal consumption will surge 5.8% to 941 million short tons (mmst) this year and rise by another 1.4% to 955 mmst in 2014, predicts the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The Department of Energy agency expects power companies to increase their use of coal to partly displace natural gas which has become more costly over the past year. An improving economy has also led to growing power demand, which, in turn, has led to increased coal use.

EIA said US coal consumption fell sharply by 11.6% to 889 mmst last year from 1,003 mmst in 2011.

In response to better demand conditions, domestic miners are expected to increase production by 1% in 2013 and by 1.3% in 2014.

The EIA said US coal miners will cut back exports over the next two years after selling a record 126 mmst to overseas buyers last year.

The agency expects US coal exports to average just below 110 mmst in both 2013 and 2014 on continuing economic weakness in the main market of Europe along with weak international prices and increasing competition from other coal-producing countries.