Coal exports out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, fell again in July, extending a slide that has pushed shipments out of that key port down 19pc from a four-year high set in April.
The port’s terminals handled 3.43mn short tons (3.11 metric tonnes) of coal last month, down from 3.56mn st in June and from 4.26mn st in April, according to the latest data from the Virginia Maritime Association.
But shipments out of Hampton Roads were still higher than a year earlier, when movements totaled 2.77mn st.
Seaborne coal prices have been falling, despite tight US supply that has left European buyers and domestic utilities vying for coal.
Prices for prompt two-month deliveries of 6,000 Kcal/kg have fallen from a high of $103.68/metric tonne cif Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp on 11 July to $94.20/t yesterday.
Despite the drop, seaborne prices are still high enough for many US producers to be interested in exporting coal.
But geopolitical tensions over tariffs and policy changes may influence overseas buyers. China has targeted US coal exports in what has become an escalating trade war with President Donald Trump’s administration.
US coal rail volumes fell by 2.7pc in July compared with the same month a year earlier, according to Association of American Railroads.
Norfolk Southern coal (NS) loadings fell to 94,437 cars from 1 July-4 August, compared with 95,444 cars in the same period a year ago. Year-to-date coal loadings fell by 4,550 loadings to 620,364 cars in 2018 compared with 624,914 cars in 2017.
CSX loadings in July rose by 7,898 cars to a total of 82,634 cars. Year to date, loadings have risen by 19,459 for a total of 509,210, compared with 489,751 loadings in the same year-ago period.
A US market participant said that there were 17-18 vessels in queue at Lamberts Point, with delays of 30-35 days for getting ships loaded. Vessels loading at the CSX-served terminals at Hampton Roads face a wait of around 5-10 days to get vessels loaded, he said.
July exports out of NS’ Lamberts Point terminal at Hampton Roads rose to 1.37mn st from 1.07mn st a year earlier, according the Virginia Maritime Association. But that is down from 1.72mn st in April and 1.39mn st in June.
Hampton Road’s Dominion Terminal Associates handled 1.29mn st last month, up from 1.14mn st in July 2017 and 1.58mn st in April. The terminal, jointly owned by Contura Energy and Arch Coal, handled 1.24mn st in June.
Exports out of Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX terminal rose to 768,921st in July, compared with 561,462st a year ago. But traffic out of the terminal is down compared with June, when 928,462st passed through the facilities, and down further still from an April high of 967,923st.
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- On August 7, 2018