US thermal coal exports rose on a year-over-year basis for the first time in 13 months in February.
A total 3.27mn short tons (2.96mn metric tonnes) of steam coal was shipped from US ports during the month, up from 3.12mn st a year earlier, although February 2020 had an extra day. Gains were made in both bituminous and subbituminous coal.
The last time thermal coal exports rose on a year over year basis was in January 2019, when they had inched up to 4.49mn st from 4.48mn st.
Thermal coal exports had already started to weaken early last year, making it easier for February 2020 to show an increase. In addition, buyer interest had perked up in late January 2020 through February as some Asian, Middle Eastern buyers entered the market. That could have been a support for March exports as well given the lag between when deals are booked and when they ship.
Exports likely will be more challenged for April and May as some US coal producers and international buyers have recently put restrictions on production and receipts of coal as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.
Thermal coal export gains in February were concentrated in India, Singapore, South Korea, Dominican Republic, and Brazil. Shipments to those countries climbed to a combined 2.77mn st from 998,557st a year earlier.
Steam coal exports to nearly every European country declined. Total thermal coal exports to Europe dropped to 170,326st in February from 927,158st a year earlier.
The decline shipments to Europe was more than offset by gains to Asia. Exports there almost doubled to 2.6mn st from 1.31mn st a year earlier.
Bituminous thermal coal exports to Asia climbed by 78pc to 2.31mn st and sub-bituminous shipments jumped to 296,876st from just 17,459st in February 2019.
Thermal coal exports to Central and South America also increased, to a combined 313,139st from 138,024st.
Exports to North American and Africa declined.
The US shipped nearly the same amount of metallurgical coal in February as it had a year earlier. Those exports dipped to 3.56mn st from 3.58mn st as declines in volumes to Africa, Europe and the Americas offset a nearly 71pc increase in volumes to Asia.
Total US coal exports rose to 6.83mn st from 6.71mn st.
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- On April 3, 2020