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Polish utilities look to raise thermal coal imports; US coal not pricing in

Polish power utilities are looking to import more seaborne thermal coal due to weaker levels of domestic production, according to market sources.

Traders said there is a desire to procure high sulfur US Northern Appalachian (NAPP) coal, which is blended with domestic lignite, but US coal is not currently pricing into Europe.

US NAPP coal is currently being offered around $82/mt on a FOB basis, with a CIF ARA price assessed by S&P Global Platts at $80.90/mt Wednesday.

The trader said coal prices are rising in Poland partly due to bottlenecks at Gdansk, owing to port capacity issues. The source said the port tends to handle vessels no higher than Panamax size.

Polish coal imports rose 61% on year in 2017 to 13.4 million mt, the highest level since 2011, according to the country’s Industrial Development Agency (ARP).

In the year to date, 14 laden and part-laden coal vessels have arrived in Gdansk, four of US origin, according to Platts trade flow software cFlow vessel. In the same period last year, six coal laden and part-laden vessels arrived in Gdansk and only one was from the US.

Polish hard coal production in 2017 fell 6.9% year on year to 65.5 million mt, whilst sales dropped 9.3% to 66.3 million mt, according to the ARP.

Poland generates around 80% of its electricity from hard coal and lignite-fired plants.

“There is a high coal burn in Poland,” said a Northwest Europe-based broker, explaining Poland is beginning to be a net importer of coal now.

A Switzerland-based trader said Russian coal is likely to be favored in the current pricing environment in Poland as they will need to keep importing coal owing to last year’s low production.

Source: Platts

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