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Coal stack on whiteEarlier this week, Consol Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX) outlined its investment plans for 2013 and said it would focus more on natural gas production. Today the company released its fourth-quarter operational review, and it is pretty clear why the company is looking at natural gas to save the day.

For the fourth quarter, the company produced a total of 14.3 million tons of coal, compared with 15.2 million tons in the fourth quarter of 2011. For the full year, Consol produced 56 million tons of coal, compared with 62 million tons in the previous year.

Forecast production for the first quarter of 2013 is in a range of 13.7 million to 14.1 million tons, and full-year coal production is forecast at 55.5 million to 57.5 million tons.

Consol’s fourth-quarter natural gas production totaled 41.8 billion cubic feet equivalent (bcfe), or up 5% from the fourth quarter of 2011…

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