One of the top exporters of Appalachian coal is about to get into another business: exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), supplied with source gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales, by 2018.

Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC, which is based in Latrobe, PA, is creating a new company, XLNG Energy & Resources. Xcoal -- which exports low-, mid- and high-volatile hard coking coals from mines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia -- said many of its coal customers are also consumers of LNG, and it expects the new company to use its existing "marketing infrastructure and commercial relationships" for success in exporting LNG.

"XLNG's primary objective is to market natural gas from abundant and proven reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins to its existing customer base in Europe and Asia," Xcoal said Wednesday. "These landlocked shale basins are located in the same geographical region as the coal fields in the eastern United States and will allow for supply chain synergies."

Xcoal CEO Ernie Thrasher told NGI's Shale Daily on Friday that the company was "still in the planning stages on many of the [logistics]," including from which operators in the Marcellus and Utica it would purchase natural gas, what LNG export terminals it would use, and with which pipelines, liquefaction plants and ships it would contract. He said the company hopes to begin LNG exports by 2018.

Thrasher added that Xcoal's current customers include countries that have free trade agreements (FTA) with the United States, and non-FTA countries.

According to Xcoal, the global LNG market is expected to grow 67% by 2025. It projects that LNG exports from the United States will grow by more than 80 million tonnes by that year to support the growth in global demand.

Xcoal supplies metallurgical coal to the steel industry and thermal coal to electric utility and industrial customers. In 2013, the company's exports totaled about 16 million tonnes. It ships coal via ports in Baltimore, MD, and Hampton Roads, VA.