Baltimore bridge collapse halts coal shipments

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 3:02 PM

By Valerie Volcovici

(Reuters) – Coal exports from the busy U.S. port of Baltimore have been disrupted following the collapse of a bridge that was struck by a massive cargo ship early Tuesday morning, rail and coal companies said.

Rail company CSX on Tuesday said its existing coal customers should expect “potential shipment delays” after the accident, for which the U.S. Coast Guard is still conducting search and rescue operations.

CSX owns the Curtis Bay coal pier in Baltimore, located near the site of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which CSX plans to keep operational for now as it continues to “assess the circumstances,” the company told Reuters in a statement.

CSX said it currently has capacity to dispatch additional trains to CSX-served coal terminals in Baltimore before it reaches pile space limits.

Coal producer CONSOL Energy, which has a marine export terminal in the Port of Baltimore, also said that vessel access in and out of its terminal was also delayed.

During the first nine months of 2023, Baltimore was the second biggest port for U.S. coal exports, behind Norfolk, Virginia, according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

During the first nine months of 2023, Baltimore exported about 20.3 million short tons of coal, up from 14.3 million short tons during the same period in 2022.

About 13.3 million short tons of exports from Baltimore during the first nine months of 2023 were steam coal and 7.0 million short tons were metallurgical coal.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)