The United States substantially increased its coal exports to Europe over the past year, following sanctions the European Union imposed on Russia.
The U.S. increased its coal exports 22% between August 2022 and July 2023 “driven almost exclusively” by demand from Europe, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The EIA noted that before the Russian war on Ukraine, Europe received almost one third of Russia’s total coal exports. Today, it has fallen “to almost nothing,” the EIA said.
The EU’s prohibition on Russian coal is part of a sweeping package of import and export sanctions it adopted after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. In addition to coal, the EU no longer imports their crude oil, refined petroleum products, steel, gold, cement, asphalt, wood, plastics and other commodities.
The EU is one of 30 U.S. allies that have partnered to impose sanctions on Russia in an effort to damage its economy and stop the war.
Following Europe's Russian coal sanction, the U.S. joined South Africa and Colombia to provide what was no longer coming from Russia. U.S. exports of steam coal to Europe increased 51% to 14.4 million short tons between August 2022, when the EU's coal sanction took full effect, and July 2023. Steam coal is primarily used to produce electricity and for heating and is most similar to the type of coal the EU used to import from Russia.
U.S. coal exports to Asia increased 6% over the same time period but decreased to Africa, Australia, Oceania and North America.
Even with the recent increase, U.S. coal exports are significantly lower than in 2018, reflecting a shift in United States energy policy toward natural gas and away from more polluting coal.