Coal exports from Hampton Roads, Virginia, increased in April from the prior year for the first time since January 2019 amid rising international coal prices.
Shipments from the port climbed by 8.5pc in April to 2.5mn short tons (2.3mn metric tonnes), a 13-month high, according to Virginia Maritime Association estimates. Exports still trailed 2019 and 2018 levels, which totaled 2.7mn st and 4.3mn st, respectively.
Dominion Terminal Associates was the only coal terminal at the port that recorded a year-over-year decrease in exports in April. The terminal handled 1.2mn st of coal for export last month, a 1.3pc drop from a year earlier.
In the same period, coal exports out of Norfolk Southern’s Lamberts Point rose by 5.9pc to 808,124st. Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX terminal exported 460,462st of coal, up from 295,873st in April 2020.
Most exports from the port are metallurgical coal shipments.
Prices for US low-volatile coking coal started to rise in December amid increased demand from China. And price gains accelerated starting in early April.
The Argus daily fob Hampton Roads assessment for prompt 90-day shipments of low-volatile coking coal rose by nearly 29pc from 8 April to $196.50/metric tonne on 19 May and has held there since then. The last time shipments were assessed at that level was in January 2019.
An increase in thermal coal export demand and prices may also be supporting shipments out of Hampton Roads. The mid-point for the high-low range of 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal out of Hampton Roads was assessed at $75.99/t fob last week, up from $68.57/t fob in the week ended 1 April and $63.29/t at the start of December.
Hampton Roads coal exports were still lower on a year to date basis than they had been in the same period of 2020.
For January-April 2021, the three coal terminals at the port handled just under 9mn st of coal for export, a 15pc decrease from a year earlier.
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- On June 1, 2021