Utah coal production for 1988 on federally leased lands is expected to reach an all-time high of 18 million tons, the Bureau of Land Management says.

"Demand has increased here in Utah for coal as the result of a couple of things," said BLM spokesman Jerry Meredith. "Probably the biggest part of the increase in demand is the completion of the Intermountain Power Project."The 1,600-megawatt, $5.5 billion coal-fired power plant near Delta was completed in June 1987 and has been selling all its output to six Los Angeles-area municipal utilities.

Meredith also said the fact that Utah coal generally has the lowest sulfur content has increased demand for the fuel.

The 18 million tons projected for this year compares with nearly 17 million tons in 1987, more than 14 million tons in 1986, and less than 13 million tons in 1985, he said.

Utah is the only state with underground mines producing from more than one coal seam at a time, the spokesman said, and is the first state to receive a coal-lease application under the federal agency's new application system enacted in January.

Most coal production on BLM- or U.S. Forest Service-leased lands in Utah occurs in the Book Cliffs, Wasatch Plateau and Emery fields, although significant deposits also are found in the Kaiparowits Plateau, Alton and Kolob fields.

Meredith said more than 214,000 acres of federal lands in Utah are under lease for coal mining.