In the US, demand for coal is cratering. As a result, coal interests are now looking to Asia with growing desperation. These firms hope to build new ports in Oregon and Washington that will allow them to ship coal to Asian markets.

The coal industry claims that Asia offers stable and lucrative markets for American coal exports. Yet much of the available evidence is cautionary, at best, and there are abundant reasons to worry that Asia’s coal markets have highly uncertain demand. Moreover, US coal will meet with stiff competition from other coal-exporting nations.

Which of these two views—an Asia with an insatiable appetite for US coal or an Asia with unstable coal markets that already show signs of glut—will hold true?

To shed some light on that question, Sightline is releasing a new report, “US Coal Exports and Uncertainty in Asian Markets.” In it we examine some of the key dynamics affecting the Pacific Rim coal trade, focusing on the major coal exporting nations as well as on the two purported dynamos of coal importing, China and India.

Based on our reading of the available evidence, much it very recent, we conclude that large-scale coal exports to Asia are an inherently risky endeavor. Coal export schemes are a gamble on a complex global trade where an array of trends—often countervailing or difficult to assess—make for a market that is unstable and fraught with uncertainty.

Read the full report here: “US Coal Exports and Uncertainty in Asian Markets.”