Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Aug. 15 that New Jersey-based FJS Energy LLC signed a 25-year, $7bn contract with India’s Abhijeet Group to purchase coal exports from Kentucky and West Virginia through Kentucky-based affiliates FJSE Marshall Inc. and FJSE River Coal.
West Virginia is the second largest coal-producing state in the U.S. and Kentucky is third, trailing only the massive Powder River Basin mines in Wyoming.
“It’s no secret that the coal industry is in a state of flux in America, what with erratic market conditions, the uncertain regulatory atmosphere and the ever-changing energy picture,” said Beshear. “But international markets need coal, and this private partnership is a great example of a new market for Kentucky resources. My administration has worked hard to strengthen ties with India, and we’re looking forward to a long and successful partnership with many more economic opportunities.”
Beshear was joined in the announcement by state Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters, Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes, and Rep. Keith Hall, Chair of the House Energy Subcommittee as well as representatives from FJS Energy, Abhijeet Group, Booth Energy Group and River Trading Co. Booth Energy is controlled by Jim Booth, one of the largest independent coal operators in Central Appalachia with mines in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia.
Under the agreement, Kentucky coal companies will export about 9 million tons of coal per year to the Abhijeet Group. While India does produce coal, domestic production can’t keep up with demand. That 9-million-tons-per-year figure is a massive one for the coal export market, which has been growing sharply lately at a time when demand from domestic coal-fired power plants has slumped.
FJS Energy’s Chairman of the Board and former Chairman of Coal India, M.P. Narayanan, said: “The deal with the Indian group, besides strengthening trade and business relationship between both the countries, will benefit both the companies optimally. Abhijeet Group is a marquis client for coal producers and suppliers in U.S. and is one of the fastest growing companies in India. FJS Energy is a reliable partner in supplying the needs of its growing list of satisfied clients.”
“I am delighted to partner with FJS Energy which is a reliable and high quality coal producer in the U.S. The import of coal will help us meet India’s increasing demand for energy and steel,” said Anand Kumar, Executive Director of Abhijeet Group. “This partnership is an example of the strong potential between American producers and Indian customers. We see a significant growth of our mutually rewarding relationship.”
“Our energy team looks forward to working with our India counterparts to provide access to the coal reserves in Kentucky,” said Jim Booth of Booth Energy. “We are very pleased that we have forged a partnership that meets their demand abroad and creates and sustains Kentucky jobs.”
“As owners and operators of 5 mid-stream assets on the U.S. inland river system, we realize the significant potential to provide high quality Kentucky and West Virginia coal to India for years to come,” said John Grantham, Vice President of the East Division of River Trading. “Since the U.S. coal industry is moving from being a swing supplier to a steady provider to the international market, we look forward to India being a big part of that growth.”
India is no stranger to Central Appalachia, with one recent example being a buy in 2010 by India’s Essar Group of Trinity Coal, one of the largest independent coal producers in the region.
“Abhijeet Group, by virtue of its entrepreneurial skills, innovative strategies and seamless execution, is emerging as one of the fastest growing and leading private sector organisations in India,” said the company website. “The Group is a well-diversified business entity with significant presence in the core sector areas of Power, Roads, Mining, EPC, Ferroalloys, Steel and Cement.”
The website said the company is involved in both coal mining and coal-fired power projects in India. For example, the MIHAN project is a coal-fired plant located near Khaire Khurd village in Nagpur district, Maharashtra, with four sub-critical coal units of 61.5 MW each.
Also in the final stages of development is the Chandwa project, a coal-fired facility located in Latehar district, Jharkhand, with four sub-critical generating units of 270 MW each.