The US EIA issued a very interesting report on the slowing in the growth of coal use in China. The chart above reflects that fact pictorially.
China will have more nuclear power, more renewable power, and more natural gas going forward and they are likely to burn a little less coal than in 2014 going forward. This does not bode well for coal producers excepting that other countries may still increase coal use but even that is unlikely. It is therefore quite possible that 2014 was the year of peak coal.
A decade ago the US DOE and companies like Peabody Coal were touting clean coal as the world’s energy savior. Clean coal is an oxymoron. Coal is as clean as Al Gore and he is simply a moron.
China will import natural gas from Russia and maybe a bit as LNG from Australia but will also develop its shale reserves. The Australian and US LNG projects are going to suck wind so to speak with spot prices for LNG cargoes now around $7.25 a million BTUs.
The industry that got smacked the hardest in the LNG Supply Chain is the shippers of the LNG. Charter rates for a LNG tanker are now $20,000 a day versus $140,000 in late 2012 early 2013.
The 86% drop in charter rates just shows the power of the supply demand marketplace and the highly elastic relationship. LNG is now a dog of a business. In fact there is not one commodity business that is doing well. Iron Ore, Copper, Oil, Natural Gas, Coal, Nickel, etc. are all in the doldrums. Even Lithium miners are not booming although lithium consumption is increasing.
The silver lining to this is that global growth in the addition of greenhouse and acid gases in our atmosphere is no more than last year and will likely remain on a slower growth trajectory for the next decade. The growth in US CO2 emissions for 2015 over 2014 look like it will also be zero or down by 0.1%. The US has substituted a bunch of natural gas for coal in power generation. Before we get too happy. The global addition of GHG to the atmosphere in 2015 will equal approximately 70 trillion pounds. The 7.2 billion people on earth only weigh approximately 700 billion pounds, hence approximately 100 times the mass of humans on the planet will be added to the atmosphere in the form of CO2 in a single year.
Of course folks will say that renewable electricity caused the slowdown in growth of GHG emissions but I know it is the slowdown in the Chinese economy and low cost natural gas that has tilted the slope of the growth curve to a zero inclination. My inclination is to go and buy a LNG tanker and turn it into a cruise ship. Some rich eccentric nerd may just charter the LNG tanker with a few of his friends for $30,000 a day and sail up the Malacca Straits dressed in pirate costumes.