BNSF Coal Shipments Defy Prognosticators

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

The new climate change agreement signed in Paris may mark the long term death of coal as a primary energy source, but in the short term, coal shipments have stayed surprisingly strong.

BNSF Railway, which is one of the nation’s largest coal shippers, has seen its year-to-date coal shipping actually rise not drop.

The rise is surprising, as coal plants have been closing, as the need to meet costly tougher emissions standards makes them uncompetitive, especially with a flood of cheap natural gas, and the ever dropping price of solar and wind generation.

Millions of Car Loads

BNSF’s total car loads of coal through December 12, 2015, were at 2,127,879, as compared to 2,177,183 car loads for the same period in 2014. The 2015 number represents a solid 2.3% increase over 2014.

There’s no doubt that as more coal fired generating plants close around the world, coal will become a fuel of the past, but for now, it’s still a key part of BNSF’s freight hauling revenues, and there’s no lump of coal in BNSF’s Christmas stocking.

© 2015 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.