US thermal coal exports rose from year-earlier levels in January for the first time in five months as shipments to Europe held near a four-year high.
Volumes for the month climbed to 3.1mn short tons (2.8mn metric tonnes) from 2.8mn st in January 2022, according to Commerce Department data released today. US coking coal exports also jumped during the month, bringing total coal shipments from US ports up to 7.1mn st from 5.7mn st.
The last time US thermal coal exports topped year-earlier levels was in August 2022.
Steam coal volumes in January were boosted by shipments to Europe and Canada. Dominican Republic and Egypt. Exports to other major regions were lower in January than they had been a year earlier.
US thermal coal shipments to Europe jumped to 1.57mn st in January from 611,140st in the same month of 2022. That was just 4pc below the four-year high set in December 2022.
For the second month in a row, the Netherlands was the largest destination for US thermal coal, with 701,972st leaving US ports enroute to the country in January. A year earlier, US exports to the Netherlands totaled 257,439st.
Other European countries getting more US steam coal in January than a year earlier included Belgium, France, Italy, Poland and Spain.
US steam coal exports to Asia extended declines in January, reflecting competitive pressure on both bituminous and sub-bituminous coal shipments in the region.
Japan was the only country listed as a destination for more than a trace amount of US sub-bituminous coal. US shippers loaded 230,306st of that type of coal to Japan in January. While that was up from 80,831 st, total US sub-bituminous coal exports were just 231,166st, less than half of what they had been in January 2022.
Bituminous thermal coal exports to Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries also declined. Total exports of that type of coal to Asia fell to 647,435st in January from 1.01mn st a year earlier. Shipments to Japan and South Korea shrank to 97,989st and 33,654st, respectively, from 258,655st and 95,582st in January 2022.
US thermal coal exports to India also continued to drop, to 456,895st in January from 579,515st a year earlier. But those year-on-year decreases — which have been happening since September 2021 — may be nearing an end. Some buyers in India have resumed interest in US high-sulfur coal as it gained a competitive cost advantage over petroleum coke.
Steam coal exports to Africa and Central and South America also fell in January from a year earlier as lower shipments to Morocco, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru offset gains in exports to Egypt and the Dominican Republic.
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- On March 16, 2023