UK coal production is dropping dramatically, but coal imports are increasing to take advantage of falling coal prices, according to new statistics from the Department of Trade & Industry.
The figures, for the third quarter of 2006, show that the UK produced 7.8% less fossil fuel compared to the same period last year. The UK produced 3.6M tonnes of coal, 24.1% less than the same period of 2005, but imported 13M tonnes of coal, 18.8% more than 2005. This enabled suppliers to meet a dramatic 23.1% rise in demand for coal for electricity generation. This rise in demand is prompted by falling coal prices while prices for other fuels have risen.Oil production also dropped - by 10.2% to 17.3M tonnes. According to the government's figures, two new fields started production in the year ending September 2006, but production was insufficient to make up for the decline in production from established fields.Natural gas production also fell, and was 2.4% lower than the same period in 2005. However, gas exports were a massive, 62.8% higher than last year, making the UK a net exporter of gas for this quarter. The UK was a net importer of gas in the same period in 2005.Total electricity production was 1.1% lower than the third quarter of 2005. The huge rise in coal use saw a corresponding drop in electricity production from both gas (11% down) and nuclear (8.1% down).Overall prices for fuel have risen sharply compared to 2005 for every resource except coal. Fuel oil prices increased by 9.7%, gas prices by 20%. Coal prices dropped by 10.3%, while the cost of electricity rose by 26.1%.