Alliance CEO Craft sees need for consolidation in U.S. coal industry FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The U.S. coal industry “needs” to consolidate in the face of difficult market conditions and sinking coal demand because of the coronavirus pandemic, Alliance Resource Partners LP CEO Joe Craft said on a May 8 earnings call.“Consolidation is needed in the coal space, and we’re a consolidator,” Craft said, commenting on options available to the Oklahoma-based coal producer to survive the uncertainty in the U.S. economy and among fossil fuel industries in particular. “Nothing [is] currently being done but it needs to happen,” he said. “Whether it does or not, I can’t predict. But that needs to happen. And we are a willing participant in that.”Craft did not specify transactions that could occur in the future. In prepared remarks at the beginning of the call, he said the company believes 2020 “will provide a new foundation for future growth of our partnership” and that “we are committed to continuing this strategy.”The drop in electricity demand created by stay-at-home orders and other social distancing efforts in the U.S. appears set to accelerate the decline of the coal industry as energy markets fundamentally transform in the wake of the crisis. Though the pandemic has yet to push U.S.-based coal-fired power plants toward earlier retirements, a Trump administration official recently told virtual attendees of a fuel buyers conference the industry may perform worse than the U.S. government’s already-grim predictions and that coal plants may retire early.Sustainability-focused think tank Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concluded in a March report the U.S. coal sector would face pressure to consolidate, with the pandemic expected to exacerbate negative market conditions. Current coal production capacity in the U.S. is “unsustainable,” the think tank stated, and 2020 “will very likely see the beginning of a long-overdue rethinking of production capacity in the U.S.”For Alliance, the pandemic has meant withdrawing its full-year 2020 production guidance in late March and temporarily idling its coal mines in the Illinois Basin while reducing production at other mines. The company is now targeting coal sales and production for 2020 of approximately 28 million tonnes and 27 million tonnes, respectively, or 25%-30% lower than originally guided, with plans to draw down inventories in the second quarter and produce in the back half of the year to meet existing contractual obligations, Craft said. In line with losses expected for major coal producers, Alliance recorded a first-quarter attributable net loss of $144.8 million, falling year over year from a net income of $276.4 million.[Jacob Holzman]More: U.S. coal industry needs to consolidate in light of pandemic, Alliance CEO says
The Wildcats were able to overcome a difficult day offensively and were able to push across some runs late to defeat Richmond on the road by a final score of 6-4. Franklin County hit the ball more consistently in this game than the previous game against Centerville, but the softballs could just not find the holes in the defense to give the Wildcats a lot of base runners. Franklin County got good pitching from their starter, Camryn Brewer, and was able to manufacture runs to defeat the Red Devils.In the first inning Richmond was able to score three runs as the Wildcats looked a little groggy getting off of the bus. Two walks, compounded with an error on a double play ball allowed the Red Devils to load the bases with no outs. Then singles later on in the inning by Laughlin-Foster and Bowery allowed the Red Devils to take an early 3-0 lead.From that point forward, Camryn Brewer would dominate in the circle for the Wildcats. She would pitch and complete game keeping the Richmond hitters off-balance with a steady array of off-speed pitches and fast balls. The only other run Brewer would give up would be later on in the seventh inning.In the top of the third inning, the Wildcats were able to manufacture some runs with no hits in the inning. Sarah Bare led off the inning for the Wildcats with a four-pitch walk. Then after Morgan Bare fell behind in the count 2-0, she was hit by a pitch to give the Wildcats runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs. Then back-to-back grounders to second base by Abby Orschell and Makaylee Woods would score both runners and bring the Wildcats within one run of the Red Devils.The Wildcats would take the lead in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Morgan Bare would again fall behind in the count and with a 1-2 count she would be hit by another pitch. Abby Orschell then a hard grounder to second which was misplayed and allowed her to reach first, then continue to second on a bad throw and allow Bare to advance to third. Makaylee Woods would then bunt into a fielder’s choice where the Red Devils made a bad throw to first allowing Woods to reach first and Bare to score on the play. Orschell would advance to third. Orschell would then score on a ground ball to third base off of the bat of Camryn Brewer with a nice slide into the plate to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead.Franklin County would add more insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings which would prove to be crucial later on. The Wildcats would add their run in the sixth, scored by Karlie Hahn when she scored on a bad throw back to the pitcher after reaching base via a walk.In the top of the seventh, the Wildcats would add their final run. Camryn Brewer would double down the left field line with one out to give Franklin County a runner in scoring position. The next play, she would advance to third on a ground out to short, but when the throw came across the diamond to try and get Brewer out, it would ricochet off her leg on the slide and go into left field, allowing her to score to Wildcats final run of the game.Richmond would make things interesting in the seventh. A lead off single by A. Brewer looked like it would be for nothing as Camryn Brewer retired the next two hitters to take Richmond down to their final out. But then the Wildcats made back to back errors which allowed the Red Devils to score another run and bring the winning run to the plate. Camryn Brewer would then induce a pop fly to Makaylee Woods to end the game.Camryn Brewer got the win for the Wildcats in the circle. She went all seven innings, giving up five hits, four runs (one earned), walked four and struck out one. Laurelai DePew took the loss for the Red Devils.Wildcats offense was led by Camryn Brewer who had a double and an RBI for the Wildcats. Michaela Ferman and Sarah Bare each drew two walks, and Morgan Bare was hit by a pitch twice and scored two runs.Franklin County (2-1) will be back in action Friday evening at home when the Knights from Northeastern High School visit Brookville. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30pm.