IEA WORLD ENERGY BALANCES: COAL FALLS AS GAS RISES

Global coal production fell significantly in 2016, while global trade in natural gas was up. These are two of the key messages in World Energy Balances, the IEA’s comprehensive picture of energy statistics. These data are drawn from official national data submissions to the IEA (International Energy Agency) from around 150 countries and regions globally. Some of the key features of energy in 2015 and 2016 are set out below.
Coal production fell sharply in China in 2016 by around 320 million tonnes or 9% – a fall equal to more than the total production from South Africa, the world’s 5th largest coal exporter. Coal production also fell elsewhere, such as the US and Australia, leading to global output falling by 458 million tonnes.
One reason why production fell in China was lower demand, particularly for power generation, though China still uses half the world’s coal. Lower coal demand has also been seen across the OECD, specifically in the US and the UK. So globally, despite an increase in India, global coal consumption in 2016 fell by around 2% in energy terms.
The greater demand for gas led to increases in trade, with growth in pipeline gas trade going into the OECD and LNG trade going to Asia.2 Together the increases saw total global gas imports increase by about 47 billion cubic meters in 2016 – around 4.5% higher than 2015. (Source IEA)