Flooded with U.S. coal, prices have fallen, putting imports into play. Prices for coal delivered into Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp decreased 26% in the past year to only $91/ton as of July 3. Cheaper coal was made possible partly by a 49% spike in first-quarter imports from the U.S., Energy Information Administration data show.

One of the leading exporters, Arch Coal, which opened a London sales office March 1, has “expanded our reach with a dedicated sales team in Europe because we see increasing energy demand [there],” said Kim Link, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis-based company, in an email to Bloomberg.

Despite declining usage in the U.S., coal accounted for 30% of global energy consumption last year, the highest share since 1969, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2012. Demand grew 5.4% in 2011, the fastest among fossil fuels.