IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard Jones said Russia can't take advantage of market conditions for coal because most of its reserves are in hard-to-reach places.
"Competitors generally exploit high-quality coal deposits relatively close to ports, allowing easy access to international markets," he said at an energy conference in Russia. "This is not possible to achieve in Russia, given the remote locations of most coal deposits and the huge transport distances."
Russia is the top natural gas producer in the world. Russia is at a distinct disadvantage for coal, however, despite ranking No. 5 in terms of production capacity.
If the country figured out a way to make coal-fired plants more efficient, he said, the country could take advantage of market conditions for natural gas. This would mean a cleaner environmental footprint for Russia and the surrounding regions.
Moscow, as of May 1, curbed oil and gas exports because of fuel shortages on the domestic market.