07-01-2017

US coal exports higher in November, including China-bound cargoes

Coal

US coal exports totaled 5.95 million mt in November, up 34.8% from the prior month and up 39.2% from the year-ago month, US Census data showed Friday.

The month also showed the first significant US exports of bituminous coal to China since February 2014. 

For overall US coal exports, November was the highest monthly total of the year and the highest monthly total since May 2015. Each of the major categories -- metallurgical, bituminous and subbituminous -- of US coal showed year-to-date highs in November.

The increase was due to the rally in seaborne prices for both thermal and met coal that opened up more export opportunities for US coal.

S&P Global Platts' assessment for thermal coal delivered into Northern Europe (CIF ARA, 15-60 day) averaged $80.73/mt in November, up 1.3% from the prior month as the price continued to rally from a low monthly average of $43.59/mt in February. 

The Platts assessment for US low vol met coal FOB US East Coast averaged $229.59/mt in November, up 16.1% from the prior month and up 198.5% from the year-ago month.

Bituminous US coal exports in November totaled 1.99 million mt, up 50.9% from October and up 52.8% from the year-ago month. In addition to a year-to-date high, the total was the highest monthly total since April 2015. 

For the year, bituminous US coal exports totaled 11.73 million mt, down 36.5% compared with the year-ago period.

Met coal exports increased in November to 3.49 million mt, up 21.8% from October and up 34.4% from the year-ago month. It was the highest monthly total since August 2015. 

Year-to-date met coal exports totaled 32.9 million mt, down 15.3% compared with the year-ago period. 

Top met coal export destinations in November were Canada, which imported 480,949 mt, compared with 289,952 mt in the year-ago month; Germany, which imported 373,833 mt in November, compared with 21,523 mt in November 2015; and Japan, which imported 372,188 mt in November, compared with 181,898 mt last year.

Year-to-date, the largest importers of US met coal are Brazil, at 5.41 million mt, compared with roughly the same amount through the same period last year; the Netherlands, at 3.3 million mt, compared with 3.56 million mt last year; and Japan, at 3.22 million mt, compared with 2.9 million mt last year.

Top bituminous coal export destinations in November were the Netherlands, which imported 670,955 mt in November, compared with 791,257 mt in the year-ago month; India, which imported 329,607 mt in November, compared with 104,033 mt last year; and China, which imported 233,273 mt, compared with essentially nothing in the year-ago month.

China last imported bituminous US coal in February 2014, when it took delivery of 60,037 mt, which was the only notable cargo of the year. China imported 1.03 million mt of bituminous coal in 2013 and 2.02 million mt in 2012. 

In 2015, US bituminous coal exports to China were negligible.

Year-to-date, the largest importers of bituminous coal were the Netherlands, at 4.59 million mt, compared with 6.82 million mt in the same period last year; India, at 2.1 million mt, compared with roughly the same amount last year; and Germany, at 1.52 million mt, compared with 1.98 million mt last year.

Subbituminous coal exports from the US totaled 402,891 mt in November, up 126.8% from the prior month and up 31.4% from the year-ago month. The top destination in November was South Korea, which imported 165,103 mt in the month, up from zero in the year-ago month.

For the year, subbituminous exports total 1.94 million mt, down 55.9% from last year. 

Source: Platts 

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