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Consol Energy Inc (NYSE:CEIX)
Q1 2020 Earnings Call
May 11, 2020, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the CEIX and CCR First Quarter 2020 Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to Nathan Tucker, Manager of Finance and Investor Relations. Please proceed, sir.

Nathan Tucker -- Manager of Finance and Investor Relations

Thank you, Eric and good morning everyone. Welcome to CONSOL Energy and CONSOL Coal Resources first quarter 2020 earnings conference call. Any forward-looking statements or comments we make about future expectations are subject to some risks, which we have outlined in our press releases or in our SEC filings and are considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. We do not undertake any obligations of updating any forward-looking statements for future events or otherwise.

We will also be discussing certain non-GAAP financial measures, which are defined and reconciled to comparable GAAP financial measures in our press releases and furnished to the SEC on Form 8-K. You can also find additional information on our websites www.consolenergy.com and www.ccrlp.com. On the call with me today are Jimmy Brock, our Chief Executive Officer; Mitesh Thakkar, our Interim Chief Financial Officer; and Jim McCaffrey, our Chief Commercial Officer.

In his prepared remarks, Jimmy will provide a recap of our key achievements during the first quarter of 2020, specific insights on marketing and operations, and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mitesh will then provide an update on our liability management program, financial results, our cost reduction efforts, and outlook for 2020. During the prepared remarks, we will refer to certain slides that were posted on our websites in advance of today's call. After the prepared remarks, there will be a Q&A session in which all three executives will participate. With that, let me turn it over to our CEO, Jimmy Brock.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Nate and good morning everyone. As we all know, these are unprecedented times we're navigating through. Thus far, 2020 has been very challenging for our industry and the world. We have seen significant declines in energy demand and have faced many uncertainties, first, due to a warmer than normal winter and most recently due to the economic slowdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The widespread government-imposed shutdown of businesses has resulted in reduced electricity demand both domestically and abroad, which has weighed on our customers' ability to burn coal.

Before I go any further, let me be clear, ensuring the safety, health and well-being of our employees and their loved ones is paramount. The world has changed significantly in the last few months and all of us have to adapt to this new reality. I am proud of the CONSOL team and the way they responded to this pandemic. We also know that being classified as an essential business comes with a lot of responsibility and pride. Our frontline employees, who mined the coal that ensures an uninterrupted power supply during this time of need, embraced the challenge.

We have adopted enhanced sanitizing and social distancing measures at our operations and implementing staggered shifts at our mine sites. Our corporate employees continue to support our operations very effectively while coordinating and collaborating remotely to support government efforts to restrict the spread of the disease. I am very thankful to the entire CONSOL team as they continue to excel in these challenging times. We will continue to monitor the risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and we'll take any additional steps that we deem necessary to keep our employees, their families, and the communities safe.

Before I dive into operation and marketing details, let me now provide a brief recap of the quarter. Despite the significant demand decline, we achieved several important goals during the first quarter. On the safety front, we delivered a very strong safety performance with our Harvey Mine, Bailey Preparation Plant, CONSOL Marine Terminal and Itmann project each having zero recordable incidents. On the operations and marketing fronts, even while we faced several headwinds and reduced demand from our customers, our strong contracted position and operational flexibility softened the impact of these declining market conditions. We drew up on the tremendous partnerships we have with our customers and continue to identify creative solutions to help navigate this extremely challenging situation. On the financial front, we completed a number of transactions during the quarter, which reduced our outstanding debt and improved liquidity and enhanced our financial flexibility. Mitesh will discuss these in more detail shortly.

Now, let me review our first quarter operation performance. Coal production at the Pennsylvania Mining Complex decreased to 6 million tons in Q1 of '20 compared to 6.8 million tons in the year ago quarter. The decline was mainly due to the aforementioned reduction in customer demand and a corresponding reduction in operating days as we sought to match production with demand. For its share of the Pennsylvania Mining Complex, CCR produced 1.5 million tons of coal during Q1 of '20 compared to 1.7 million tons in the year ago quarter.

On the cost front, our average cash cost of coal sold per ton was $32.41 in Q1 of '20 compared to $29.71 in Q1 of '19. The per ton increase was largely driven by the decline in the production volumes and higher subsidence-related costs at our Enlow Fork mine. The CONSOL Marine Terminal had a throughput volume of 3.4 million tons during the quarter compared to 4 million tons in the year ago period. Given the terms of our take-or-pay contract at the terminal and despite a decline in shipments, our terminal revenues for the quarter were only modestly impaired at $16.5 million compared to $17.8 million in the year ago quarter. However, cash operating costs were slightly improved at $5.2 million versus $5.6 million in the year ago period.

I am pleased to announce that our Itmann project mined its first cut of coal and shipped product to a third-party processor in early April. We remain very excited about this project and even though we've slowed down the pace, we've been successful in proceeding with development mining at a controlled level of net expenditures. This gives us the flexibility to ramp up the project back up at our discretion in the future when market conditions warrant.

Let me now provide an overview of the coal markets and an update on our sales performance and accomplishments. This was a challenging quarter for coal markets to say the least. Coal demand was first impacted due to a mild winter and low natural gas prices and then was impacted as a result of the government imposed shutdowns of non-essential businesses. On the power price front, average PJM West day-ahead power prices were 33% lower in Q1 of '20 compared to Q1 of '19 and more than 50% below the Q1 '18 levels, which helps to illustrate the severity of the decline.

For the most part, our power price linked contracts were yielding realizations at their contractual floors. Henry Hub natural gas prices averaged $1.90 per MMBtu during the quarter, which was down 35% compared to Q1 of '19. These low natural gas prices amid a significant overall demand decline resulted in substantial coal to gas switching in the U.S., which in turn led to increased coal inventories for our customers. This all translated into reduced demand for our coal and led us to complete several contract buyouts in the quarter as we sought to help our customers manage their inventory levels. These contract buyouts involve the negotiations of early terminations of several customer contracts in exchange for payment of certain fees to us during the first quarter of 2020, which contributed $10.8 million to our miscellaneous other income.

On the export front, international thermal coal prices have been in decline since the start of 2019 due to a pullback in global LNG prices and now due to the global COVID-19 related shutdowns. However, as a result of this unprecedented demand decline and low prices, we believe that the global supply rationalization will be forced upon the industry. As you can see on Slide 7 of the supplemental slide deck that we posted to our websites this morning, Wood MacKenzie estimates that at current spot prices, 36% of seaborne coal supply is at high risk of curtailment. The majority of this is thermal coal. With estimates of 440 million tons of high risk production globally, we believe this could help to tighten the market as we move forward.

From a marketing perspective, we continue to maintain 100% of our existing customer base and continue to find opportunities to selectively grow and capture market share in the export markets. We announced this morning that our customer, Xcoal recently won a contract to supply 1.8 million tons of coal to the Punta Catalina power plant in the Dominican Republic. To fulfill that contract, Xcoal increased the volume of tons to be acquired under its supply contract with us. In aggregate, we are contracted for 10 million plus export tons in 2020. While we do not like the prices that we're seeing in the current market, we will generate cash margins on these new tons and we'll hopefully gain a long-term end user for our coal. While we are mostly contracted for 2020, we have some more work to do for our volumes in 2021 and beyond.

Despite our strong contracted position, we do face significant uncertainties given the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown. As always, we will work together with our customers to help them manage the contractual obligations that we both have. With that, I will now turn the call over to Mitesh to provide the financial update.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Jimmy and good morning everyone. Let me start with an update on our liability management efforts in the context of our capital allocation strategy. I will then review our financial results for 1Q '20 and touch upon our cost management efforts and 2020 outlook. As we stated on our last earnings call, our top priority heading into 2020 was to remain laser focused on improving the risk profile of our balance sheet by reducing our outstanding debt and creating long-term value for our CEIX shareholders and CCR unit holders. I'm pleased to inform you that we believe we have gotten off to a good start in 1Q '20.

For CEIX, we retired $53 million worth of our outstanding debt in the first quarter of 2020. Most meaningfully, we spent less than $26 million to repurchase approximately $43 million of our second lien debt as it continued to trade at a significant discount to its par value. To put that number in perspective, we repurchased approximately $53 million of our second lien debt in the entire year of 2019. These discounted second lien repurchases provided a high rate of return and were extremely accretive to our equity holders.

As we have stated in the past, our goal is to have a significantly lower level of absolute debt before our 2024 Term Loan B matures and this debt reduction during the first quarter was another big step toward that goal. We recognize that our financial securities are very volatile and as a result, we intend to spread our purchases out over time and take advantage of dollar-cost averaging. We also recognize that liquidity is very important during these uncertain times. In spite of deploying a significant amount of capital buying back our debt, we still ended the quarter with a cash balance and liquidity that were in line with the beginning of the first quarter.

To achieve this, we completed multiple transactions during the quarter to provide additional sources of low cost capital and to improve financial flexibility despite a decline in organic free cash flow versus the prior year period. First, we closed a finance lease transaction on a set of longwall shields, which provided net cash proceeds of $16.3 million at an interest rate of approximately 5.6%. Second, we secured a commitment to provide an additional $20 million for future equipment financing needs. Finally, we successfully amended and extended the term of our accounts receivable securitization program extending the maturity to March 2023 from August 2021 while keeping the size of the facility unchanged.

Last quarter, we also indicated that improving our net accounts receivable outstanding was one of our priorities for 2020. During the first quarter, we had some success on that front as well. Our trade accounts receivable had declined to $113 million at the close of March 31st, 2020 from $132 million at the close of December 31st, 2019. While current market conditions are acting as a headwind in this process, we believe we will continue to make slow and steady progress toward normalizing our accounts receivable conversion cycle.

Let me now discuss CCR. On April 24th, CCR announced that its Board of Directors has made the decision to temporarily suspend its cash distribution to all unit holders. While painful, we believe this was a necessary step for several reasons. First, the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic related demand decline resulted in significant earnings decline for CCR. We started seeing it in the first quarter and we expect it to continue through at least the second quarter and potentially the rest of the year. Accordingly, we believe it is prudent to manage our cash flows, leverage ratios, and liquidity to ensure the maximum financial flexibility possible. This distribution suspension helps CCR conserve approximately $14 million of cash every quarter. On the trade receivables front, CCR like CEIX had similar success and ended the quarter with $28 million in trade receivables compared to $33 million at the beginning of the quarter.

With that, let me now recap our first quarter 2020 results. We'll review CEIX first, then CCR. CEIX reported first quarter 2020 net income attributable to CEIX shareholders of $2.4 million or $0.09 per diluted share compared to $14.4 million or $0.52 per diluted share in 1Q '19. CEIX also reported 1Q '20 adjusted EBITDA of $62.9 million and organic free cash flow of $24.2 million, which compared to $118.5 million and $48 million respectively in the year ago period [Phonetic]. The decline in our earnings metrics compared to the year ago period is mostly the result of lower PJM power prices and coal export prices and the reduction in volumes that Jimmy previously discussed. In 1Q '20, we generated $51.4 million of cash flow from operations and spent $27.2 million in capital expenditures. As a result CEIX generated $24.2 million in organic free cash flow. Our cash flow from operations included a modest working capital improvement of $2.1 million.

Now let me update you on CCR. This morning CCR reported net income of $0.2 million, adjusted EBITDA of $14.4 million and distributable cash flow of $3.5 million for the first quarter. This compares to $15.2 million, $28.2 million and $17.3 million respectively in the year ago quarter. In 1Q '20, CCR generated $16.8 million in net cash from operating activities, which includes $4.5 million improvement in working capital. After accounting for $5.2 million in capital expenditures, $14.4 million in distribution payments and proceeds from the shield lease financing transactions, we were able to hold our outstanding debt on the intercompany loan with CEIX flat compared to year-end 2019. Nonetheless, due to the reduction in the trailing 12 month EBITDA, CCR finished the quarter with a net leverage ratio of 2.2 times.

Now let me move on to providing some color on what we expect for the remainder of 2020. We typically provide you with quantitative guidance around our sales, revenue, cost, and EBITDA expectations. However, given the difficulty in forecasting the duration and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown in energy demand decline, our 2020 guidance remains suspended for the quarter. As we gain more visibility around demand recovery, we expect to resume some quantitative guidance. In the meantime, let me provide some color that could help analysts and investors from a modeling standpoint.

On the production side, the mines are ready to run, but we will remain sales driven. Even though we have 25 plus million tons contracted for 2020, the timing of shipments and the magnitude of contract buyouts will dictate the ultimate sales and production volumes. This is very painful for us. However, we recognize our customers are suffering as well and we are working with them to ensure that we support each other. From our side, the compromise could involve deferring some volumes and extending some payment terms. From the customer side, it could mean buying out contracts or adding additional volumes in the future. As a result of this constantly evolving landscape, we have currently idled some of our longwalls and expect frequent changes to our second quarter operating schedule. The management team also took significant steps to reduce the overall cost structure of the business in order to help offset the recent demand decline brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, we adjusted our operating schedule to reduce output to better align our production with customer demand including making the decision in mid-April to temporarily idle our higher cost Enlow Fork mine. Second, we embarked on several cost reduction initiatives that in aggregate could help us achieve approximately $100 million in cash preservation in 2020 compared to 2019. These include number one, $8 million to $10 million in cash SG&A savings by canceling annual merit increases, suspended planned hiring, and cash incentive compensation. Number two, $45 million to $50 million in capital expenditure reductions mostly due to a reduction in maintenance capital expenditure at the Pennsylvania Mining Complex.

Number 3, $7 million to $10 million in cash interest expense savings at CEIX due to debt extinguishment. Number four, $30 million to $40 million cash savings due to reduced income taxes and payroll tax deferrals. Number five, $5.6 million on a consolidated level and $14.4 million at the CCR level, every quarter the distribution suspension stays in place. These cash preservation initiatives will provide us with the flexibility to opportunistically take advantage of the decline in the prices of our outstanding public debt.

Finally, the Board members of CEIX have also agreed to temporarily defer cash compensation to support the cash preservation efforts of the company. Lastly from a market perspective, although the COVID-19 driven economic slowdown has significantly reduced global energy demand, we are already beginning to see supply responses. First, with the oil pricing and supply reductions arising from the new OPEC plus deal, Wood MacKenzie is now estimating that total non-OPEC supply may decline by as much as 4 million barrels per day, 3 million of which would come from the continental U.S., particularly in the Permian Basin. That's important, because a significant oil supply reduction in the Permian also means a significant reduction in associated gas production.

Furthermore, lower oil and natural gas prices are negatively affecting the financials of E&P companies and forcing a reduction in the size of their capital budgets. Industry observers are now estimating that E&P capital expenditures will decline by as much as 40% to 45% in 2020. As a result of this reduced investment pace, industry experts are now projecting natural gas prices to rise above $3 per MMBtu in 2021, which we believe will make coal more attractive to our power plant customers.

In fact, IHS Markit now expects that U.S. coal consumption could return to 2019 levels in 2021. This translates into approximately 125 million tons in demand recovery due to an increase in natural gas prices driving gas to coal switching in 2021. In the coal industry, domestic supply rationalization was already happening in 2019 and we expect that to accelerate in 2020. Internationally, as Jimmy mentioned, 36% of global seaborne supply is at risk of curtailments at current pricing levels. Putting it all together, these developments could bode very well for us as we begin filling out the remainder of our 2021 contract book in the coming months. With that, let me turn it back to Jimmy to make some final comments.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Mitesh. Before we move on to the Q&A session, let me take this opportunity to lay out some of our priorities for the remainder of 2020 and address some of the uncertainty we are facing in the current economic climate. First and foremost, I want to commend our employees for their dedication, hard work, and wellness to adapt in these unprecedented times. We have adjusted procedures and protocols in order to keep everyone safe and prevent any unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus.

We've enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices at the mines, both on the surface and underground. We've also implemented additional social distancing measures, staggered shifts, reduced elevator capacities, and mandatory temperature checks at all mine entrance locations. Our corporate staff has been working remotely for well over a month now. I couldn't be proud of our employees and their willingness to embrace these adjustments without hesitation. I want to thank them for continuing to place safety above all else.

For 2020, while we navigate this ever changing landscape due to the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, our main strategy of prioritizing a strong balance sheet will remain as we seek to delever, reduce our interest expense, and continue to take advantage of the dislocations in the process of our debt securities. The reason our capital allocation strategy has been so effective is its consistency. Our priorities remain constant despite any fluctuations in commodity markets.

By consistently targeting the highest rate of return projects, we are always reevaluating and willing to pivot in a new direction as the world around us changes. We proved this with our willingness to delay our Itmann growth project to prioritize the guaranteed high rate of returns associated with our second lien repurchases. Mitesh and his team will continue to remain laser focused on bolstering liquidity, improving financial flexibility, and reducing our overall debt. Jim McCaffrey and his team will continue to work closely with our customers to manage their shipments and inventory levels and Eric and his team will continue to manage their cost structure and operating schedules to best align them with demand and preserve margins.

Additionally, we are pulling multiple levers to preserve cash flow in this economic downturn. We have been able to reduce our capital spending requirements in 2020 thanks to our willingness to keep our mines well capitalized in strong markets. We are working on reducing our operating cost structure at the mines through delaying discretionary spending and adjusting our operating schedules according to demand. We have also implemented significant cost saving measures at the corporate level as well.

Finally, although there is a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace and nothing is guaranteed, we are currently 98% contracted for 2020 assuming a 26 million ton run rate. We have also contracted more than 10 million export tons in 2020 after Xcoal increased the volume of tons to be acquired under its supply contract with us. In summary, our key priorities for the remainder of 2020 are: one, to ensure the health and safety of our workforce, their families, and the communities in which we operate amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; two, to safely and compliantly produce our high quality coal at the lowest possible cost. Three, to continue to work with our customers to ensure that the long-term nature of our relationships continue as we navigate this storm together; and fourth, to continue to improve our balance sheet and bolster our liquidity.

Before I turn the call over, I want to touch on one last point. As you may have seen, we are continuing to work through the very complicated and complex Murray Energy bankruptcy. As we have stated before, we will vigorously defend our rights, our employees, the communities in which we live and work, and our stakeholders in these proceedings. However, we cannot comment on any ongoing litigation matters associated with these proceedings and we will not be fielding any questions on the topic today. With that, I will hand the call back over to Nate for further instructions.

Nathan Tucker -- Manager of Finance and Investor Relations

Thank you, Jimmy. We will now move to the Q&A session of our call. Eric, can you please provide the instruction to our callers?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question today will come from Mark Levin with The Benchmark Company. Please proceed with your question.

Mark Levin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Thanks very much and appreciate all the color. I guess the first question is actually from Mitesh. Mitesh you were reeling off all of those numbers in terms of SG&A savings and capex reduction. Is that relative to your 2019 actual or relative to the announced suspended guidance. Just trying to benchmark how much we should adjust our model for those numbers?

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Thank you, Mark. I think those are all relative to 2019 actuals.

Mark Levin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Okay, fair enough. Very helpful. And then, second question relates to the export business. So I guess you guys are shooting to sell about 10 million tons or have 10 million tons under contract. I guess what's the risk to that number and then maybe more specifically you guys ship a lot of tons to India. If you can maybe talk about what the environment is like in India with the lock down and how much of a risk that would present?

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hi Mark, it's Jim, how are you?

Mark Levin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

I'm doing well. Thank you, Jim.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I'm going to do my best to answer your questions, but please keep in mind that visibility is not very clear and we're reforecasting constantly, but in India, as you know, they had a lock down, a lot of the people left their working areas to go to their home bases again. The lock down is supposed to be totally lifted by May 18th. We expect businesses to get back going in gear, but a lot of demand destruction has taken place in India as well and the three large West Coast terminals are all relatively full with approximately 18 million tons.

We still expect demand to be very strong in India. When we look at our first quarter, we had shipped about 1.7 million tons to India, which was about 28% of our total sales and that's up from previous years. So our sales are up some and we continue to expect demand, but as the shutdown ends, we're moving into monsoon season. So as we exit monsoon, we expect to see some return in volume.

Mark Levin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Okay and then Jim, maybe kind of 2021, I think you guys mentioned you've got 40% some odd contracted in 2021. I realize netback contracts can change things and shifting tons from '20 to '21 can change things, but as it stands right now and you look at what's contracted for next year 2021, should we anticipate a big price per ton reduction, a modest one, flat. I mean how would one think about approximating what the 2021 book could look like maybe just assuming normal weather?

James J. McCaffrey -- Senior Vice President of Coal Marketing and Chief Commercial Officer

Well, Mark, we're in negotiations for business for 2021 right now. So I don't want to discuss price too much, but in general, I think the published forwards are way too low and unsustainable. You see where we're at today. I think we can maintain level or improve. Mitesh talked about the gas situation changing. We think that'll be a big benefit to our net back tons. So I would think we can hold the course or improve.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

And one big factor in that Mark will be how quick these businesses get back open and the demand starts to increase because that's what we all need. That will help price and then if natural gas prices end up north of $3 an MMBtu as many are predicting, that should help the price as well, but there is some work to do as far as the inventories and there's a lot of uncertainty right now. So we'll have to see how all of that goes in the future.

Mark Levin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

No, that makes sense. And my last question, as you think about -- and maybe this is for Mitesh. If you think about kind of debt pay down versus maintaining a certain amount of liquidity. How do you toe that balance. Is there a liquidity target that you have sort of a minimum level. Obviously, you've been active in repurchasing debt, but I was just trying to figure out how to calibrate what you're comfortable with in terms of maintaining a minimum amount of liquidity?

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Sure, Mark, I think as you pointed out, it's a balance right and that's why we mentioned earlier in the call that we are not going to be super aggressive on anything. We are going to make sure that at all the times, we have adequate amount of liquidity. I think I'm comfortable where our liquidity sits today. Now, if the market conditions improve and we start seeing businesses open up, I think we could potentially deploy some more cash, but I think we'll have to make sure that at all times we have a significant amount of liquidity.

We are also looking at other sources of financing, one of which we have executed in the first quarter. So if there are opportunities like that where essentially you are borrowing low cost capital and taking advantage of market dislocations and retiring high cost capital, we'll look at those opportunities as well. So I think free cash flow generation, the good thing is the business generates free cash flow and as long as that continues, we can deploy some amount of cash taking advantage of market dislocations.

Mark Levin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Great, fantastic. Thanks for the time this morning.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Mark.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Mark.

Operator

Our next question comes from Lucas Pipes of B. Riley FBR. Please proceed with your question.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Hey, good morning everyone. I hope you all are doing well and staying safe. I wanted to kind of follow-up a little bit on that last question from Mark. In terms of the potential for things to get worse, just I understand that -- look it seems to be improving, natural gas prices are up and such but like within the coal markets of course there are a lot of inventories. So if things don't kind of come back here over the next three, six months -- nine months and the market stays over-supplied, what should we expect from you in terms of being able to respond to this market environment both from an operational as well as from a kind of cash liquidity perspective? Thank you.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, from an operational standpoint, Lucas, we've always said that we will run to the market and that's currently what we're doing today. So it used to be a weekly thing. Now it's a daily thing that we actually sit down and look at what our forecasts are for the day, for the week and then we adjust accordingly. That's one of our strong suites with the Pennsylvania Mining Complex is the optionality we have with the complex whereas we can run one longwall or we can run five longwalls, but it will be depending on the market.

Good news for us is we don't have ground storage. So we don't have a lot of inventory to work through and as long as we stay in communication with our Tier 1 railroads, then we can move that coal out. So it's a matter of what coal shipments do we have for that week and what's the quality, that will pretty much determine which longwall we need to run and then it's all about cost. It's about managing cash and running the lowest cost operation you can. So from an operation standpoint, we'll continue to look at ways to take out cost and then we'll run to whatever the market requirements are for that week or that day.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

On the financial side, Lucas, like I Lucas like I was talking to Mark's question -- I was answering Mark's question. I think we would like to remain flexibility. The good thing is we refinanced our debt last year. So we don't have any immediate maturities. I think we got a attractive interest rate here. So the way I would think about it is without compromising liquidity, as long as we are able to carry out some of the transactions and as you can see, our Board is supportive of the strategy as well as they approved an increase in authorization will allow us to be opportunistic in the marketplace.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

And then on the market side, Lucas, some of our customers have flexibility built into their contract and we expect that most of those will fully use their flexibility that they're allowed, but at some point, they can't move all their tons into 2021. So they have to take and burn tons in '20 or they have to buy us out of the tons. In the first quarter, we have already stated that we had $10.8 million of buyouts which represents about 550,000 tons. So we would much prefer to mine, ship, and burn those tons than we would just get a buyout, but it does give us the ability to continue to bring cash into the business.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Yeah, that's very helpful. Appreciate all the color there. A follow-up on just kind of cash management and balance sheet management. Great to see that increased authorization from the Board on the debt repurchase side and I wondered if you could maybe speak to the cadence of potential additional buybacks. Obviously a great way to delever the balance sheet here given what the market is doing. Thank you.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

I think, Lucas, it is hard in this market to give you like the exact numbers on how we are going to execute that. Again, like I said, it depends on where the market is and how much cash is coming in the door. I mean if Jim McCaffrey brings in more cash in the door, you will see that pace increase and we'll make sure that we don't compromise liquidity in this market. So I think the the Board authorization is for two years as it sits today, an additional two years, but as you've seen in the past that if we are executing it faster, we have added to that authorization if need be, but like I said, it's hard to give you a very accurate cadence without knowing what the market has in store for us next week, next month.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I think simply put, Lucas, it's -- our capital allocation process, we'll stay with that. We have the flexibility to repurchase shares or pay back debt and it will always be on the highest rate of return.

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

That's very helpful. Gentlemen, I really appreciate the color and continuing best of luck.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Lucas.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question comes from Michael Dudas of the Vertical Research Partners. Please proceed with your question.

Michael Dudas -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Good morning gentlemen.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Mike.

Michael Dudas -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

First question, just a clarification on the Xcoal announcement relative to the tonnage to the Dominican Republic. That 1.8 million tons, that's all going to be sourced by you guys and is that for this year, is that an annual basis or spread out, how does that work through?

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

We expect it will all be sourced from us. The 1.8 million is really 1.8 million metric, Mike, we weren't totally clear on that and it will be done in three, four-month trimesters starting in May. So it's really for a year starting in May.

Michael Dudas -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Okay, terrific. That's helpful. Secondly, the amount of customer buyout you saw in the quarter, can I just get a sense of how do you think things are going to trough as as we start to end the lock downs and recover and see load factors improve, do you sense that your existing customer base will keep that pace of buyouts because of the lock down or will that maybe start to subside as things get back to normal and as you're talking to your customers, I know you are looking daily and weekly on your nominations, any insight from them? Any sense of where that flows respective of where gas price or power price might be?

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

As far as the pace of buyouts, Mike, we will have some buyouts in the second quarter. We certainly hope that's the peak. As I said earlier, our intent is not to have our customers buyout, our intent is to deliver and have the product burnt. In terms of gas, I think our customers are just starting to feel their way through that now as more and more reports come out about the loss of auxiliary gas and the fact that it looks like the gas curves are getting stronger for the end of the year and for 2021. So I can't say that we've had a lot of dialog on that. We've had some. It's something that we're working on very hard right now, we're talking to our customers on a weekly basis, sometimes more often, and we are working on things for 2021.

Michael Dudas -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

I appreciate that. Jimmy or Jim. My final question would be on this -- moving this topic further, looking at competitive environment, domestic coal producers, some large ones as you know are in some difficult financial positions. Are customers more concerned about that. Do you get a sense there could be potential for share gains and how significant do you think the production response, certainly it's probably going to be ahead of when demand picks up for gas and certainly coal, seems pretty dour out there in the eastern coalfields and connect certainly help as you kind of time in your export layers and your layers into 2021 and beyond. Thank you.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, you know for us, Mike, Mitesh said this in his remarks. I mean our mines are ready to go. They're fully capitalized, they're fully developed. To ramp up production, we don't have to go in there and do anything special whereas someone that might be in bankruptcy or someone that had to work hard, just to hold cash together may have sacrificed some development speed, may have sacrificed some spending that needs to be done on really needed maintenance. So we find that we're in a position to move quickly as the market improves and that's what we intend to do. I've read a lot of studies -- there's a lot of debate about where coal is going to be this year and next year, but some people think that we could have anywhere from 125 million tons to 170 million tons recovery in 2021 and we'll be ready for it, I'm not sure the whole industry will be.

Michael Dudas -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

I agree, Jim. Thanks for your thoughts, gentlemen, good luck.

Operator

Our next question will come from Matthew Fields with Bank of America. Please proceed with your question.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Hey, everyone. Just [Speech Overlap] housekeeping follow-ups for me. Have you purchased any more second lien bonds in the 40 some odd days since March 31?

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

We have not yet. And just to remind everyone that we do have a restriction on our second lien, which is tied to our leverage ratio. So right now, we are not buying our second lien debt.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay, thank you. And then the capex guidance, I think you said that it was, the reductions I think, correct me if I'm wrong, $45 million to $50 million lower capex, but that's from a 2019 level, so that's -- is that like a $120 million to $125 million guidance for 2020 now.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Again, we are not providing guidance. So I will not give you the range, but I think you are in the neighborhood. And remember, this is a constant work in progress. So we are looking at everything. So think of just initial steps.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay and then you mentioned that the Enlow Fork mine was sort of the higher cost mine in your comments that you decided to idle. Can you give us an idea of sort of the cash cost per ton for Enlow Fork compared to your other two in the PAMC?

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

So Matt, we don't talk about our individual mines, but in terms of cost structure, I think we run PAMC as a complex, but as you know Enlow Fork is going through a high subsidence here. It started in 2019 and we have often talked about this on the call that because of subsidence their cost is a little bit skewed in this year and that is the primary reason where, unless we figure out a way to lower the cost structure at Enlow or the market demand recovers, I think we'll be very careful on how that mine is brought back online.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah and just to add to that a little bit, Matthew, Enlow Fork, you've heard us talk about it many times before the geological conditions they have and this is primarily up in the North. Enlow Fork will be moving to our new eastern reserves and we'll be out of that high subsidence area up there. We only lack two short panels and would be moved out of there in next year in 2021. So we expect the cost to more normalize to our other operations in the mining complex, but we have to get out of the north side before we get over there and that's the reason for the higher cost. I mean they have the same operating mentality and equipment, it's just some of the conditions they have, haven't allowed them to be very cost effective there.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

I'd also add that this is also shipment driven right -- like so if we get back to our normal pace of shipments, the idea is not here to say that Enlow Fork doesn't make money in the current environment at our current contracted price. It is when the shipments fall off, you automatically scale back production and when you are scaling back production, you are scaling back at your higher cost mines. This is not saying that Enlow Fork cannot make money at our current prices. Our shipment level is temporarily low because of COVID-19 related demand decline.

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay, I understand. Thanks for all the help and clarifications on that.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Yeah.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our next question will come from Nick Jarmoszuk with Stifel. Please proceed with your question.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. Question on the CCR, CEIX relationship. Has there been any discussion regarding CCR addressing the principal due to CEIX?

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Repeat that question, Nick?

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

I am basically wondering is CCR going to be chipping away at the principal due to CEIX?

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

I think generally speaking CCR, as you saw, the leverage ratio ticked up and because of the market uncertainty, we suspended the distribution. To the extent any cash that doesn't get distributed and CCR generates that cash, I think it is prudent for CCR for pay down the debt. That will save some interest expense for CCR.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

Yeah and -- OK. A question for you on the natural gas price. So you were talking about $3 or a $3 outlook for '21 could increase coal burn. Now, how do you think about is, what's the magic number you guys need to start seeing some gas to coal switching for your customers? Is it $3 or is it a little higher, a little lower [Speech Overlap].

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, first of all, any increase in the gas price helps to improve our burn at our netback pricing mines. We've said before that our netback price has its base price that is equivalent to around $25 into PJM. Above that, we get an energy market adjustment and an energy market adjustment adds up to $0.20 across the entire portfolio for every dollar of improvement in the PJM. Now, we're looking at the forwards today and the forwards are taking a big jump in July to above $25 and they're showing growth to above [Phonetic] $30 by the end of the year. So we think that that's going to make a better second half for the net back deals and for next year, but any improvement in the gas market benefits. Nick, I would say that we find most of our customers model plus or minus on gas around $2.50 to $2.75. So I think that's a good number to model at.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay, all right. And then last question, just regarding the Xcoal contracts that are coming up at the end of this year. Can you just -- any updates regarding the discussions there?

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

There is discussions.

James J. McCaffrey -- Senior Vice President of Coal Marketing and Chief Commercial Officer

Yeah. That contract runs through December this year and we have started some light discussions on that. We expect to get heavy into that a little bit later in the year when we get some sort of certainly coming back to us once we get out of this out of this pandemic situation.

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay, that's great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes our question-and-answer session. I would now like to turn the conference back over to Nathan Tucker for any closing remarks.

Nathan Tucker -- Manager of Finance and Investor Relations

Thank you, Eric. We appreciate everyone's time this morning and thank you for your interest in and support of CEIX and CCR. Hopefully, we were able to answer most of your questions today. We look forward to our next quarterly earnings call. Thanks everybody.

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, everyone.

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

Thanks everybody.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 52 minutes

Call participants:

Nathan Tucker -- Manager of Finance and Investor Relations

Jimmy A. Brock -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Mitesh Thakkar -- Interim Chief Financial Officer

James J. McCaffrey -- Senior Vice President of Coal Marketing and Chief Commercial Officer

Mark Levin -- The Benchmark Company -- Analyst

Lucas Pipes -- B. Riley FBR -- Analyst

Michael Dudas -- Vertical Research Partners -- Analyst

Matthew Fields -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Nick Jarmoszuk -- Stifel -- Analyst

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