Coal exports out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, fell for the sixth straight month in July.
Loadings from the port’s three terminals dropped to 2.49mn short tons (2.26mn metric tonnes) from 3.43mn st a year earlier, according to data from the Virginia Maritime Association released today.
Exports from all three coal terminals fell. Shipments out of eastern US Norfolk Southern’s Lamberts Point dropped to an estimated 1.23mn st from 1.37mn st in July 2018.
Exports out of Dominion Terminal Associates (DTA), which is co-owned by US coal producers Arch Coal and Contura Energy, fell to 787,720st in July from 1.29mn st in the same month of 2018. And Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX terminal loaded 471,312st of coal last month, down from 768,921st a year earlier.
Year-to-date export totals also lag last year at the three terminals. Total year-to-date exports out of Hampton Roads dropped to 20.6mn st during the first seven months of the year from 25.3mn st in January-July 2018.
Shipments out of Lamberts Point totaled 8.8mn st through the end of July, down from 10.6mn st last year. Pier IX shipments dropped to 4.91mn st from 5.58mn st, while DTA exports fell to 6.88mn st from 9.1mn st.
The last time coal exports from Hampton Roads increased on a year-over-year basis was in January, when terminals handled 3.43mn st, compared with 2.91mn st the previous year.
In all, 28 coal vessels set sail from Hampton Roads last month, compared with 45 a year earlier and 42 in June.
US metallurgical coal prices have been falling since May as buyers waited for prices to bottom out. The Argus fob Hampton Roads assessment for low-volatile coking coal was $152/t this week, down by 17.4pc from the end of May.
Contura yesterday said it expects the recent softening in coking coal prices and demand to be relatively short-lived. Even so, the company lowered its 2019 Central Appalachian coking coal sales outlook to 11.5mn-12mn st from a previous 12.2mn-12.8mn st. It also lowered its Central Appalachian thermal coal sales expectations but raised the outlook for its trading and logistics segment to 1.3mn-1.7mn st from the previous 1mn-1.5mn st.
Arch raised its coking coal sales outlook by 100,000st to 6.7mn-7.1mn st in July but said pricing would be weaker in the second half of the year than the first half. It held its outlook for thermal coal sales unchanged.
Thermal coal export prices also have limited new export opportunities for US producers. The midpoint for prompt two-month shipments of 6,000 kcal/kg coal out of Hampton Roads stood at $62.86/t last week, which is typically too low for Central Appalachian coal producers to make a profit in international markets.
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- On August 20, 2019