The Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2012 provides IEA forecasts on coal markets for the coming five years as well as an in-depth analysis of recent developments in global coal demand, supply and trade. The annual report shows that while coal continues to be a growing source of primary energy worldwide, its future is increasingly linked to non-OECD countries, particularly China and India, and to the rise of natural gas.
The international coal market is experiencing dynamic changes. In 2011, China alone accounted for more than three-quarters of incremental coal production, while domestic consumption was more than three times that of global trade. Low gas prices associated with the shale gas revolution caused a marked decrease in coal use in the United States, the world’s second-largest consumer. This led US thermal coal producers to seek other markets, which resulted in an oversupply of coal in Europe and a significant gas-to-coal switch. Meanwhile, China overtook Japan as the largest importer of coal, and Indonesia overtook Australia as the world’s largest exporter on a tonnage basis.
The report examines the pronounced role the Chinese and Indian economies will exert on the international coal trade through 2017. In the report’s Base Case Scenario, China accounts for over half of global consumption from 2014, and India surpasses the United States as the world’s second-largest consumer of coal in 2017. The report also offers a Chinese Slowdown Case, a hypothetical scenario which shows that even if Chinese GDP growth slowed to 4.6% average over the period, the country’s coal consumption would continue to grow.