Coal exports from Hampton Roads, Virginia, reached their highest level in nearly four years in February as some rail shipments accelerated and European demand increased.
The terminals at the port loaded 3.07mn short tons (st) (2.79mn metric tonnes) of coal last month, up by nearly 4pc from the prior year’s levels, according to Virginia Maritime Association estimates.
That is also the largest amount of coal exported from Hampton Roads since 3.26mn st were loaded onto vessels in March 2019.
February coal loadings were also 12pc above January 2023 volumes.
Volume was in part affected by how fast Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX were able to deliver coal trains. NS coal trains operated at an average pace of 16.7mph between 4 February-3 March, down from 17.3mph during the same period in 2022, US Surface Transportation Board data show. CSX trains moved at 23.5mph, up from 20.9mph last year.
Two of the three Hampton Roads coal terminals loaded more coal in February than they had in the same month in 2022.
NS’ Lamberts Point terminal handled 1.19mn st of coal, up by 12pc from 1.06mn st a year earlier. Dominion Terminal Associates, owned by Arch Resources and Alpha Metallurgical Resources, handled 1.24mn st of coal in February, up by 4.9pc from 1.18mn st from a year earlier.
Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX was the only terminal to handle less coal in February than it had during the prior year. It loaded 643,473st, down by 9.6pc from 711,563st in February 2022. But the terminal’s export volumes rose by 5.4pc compared with January 2023, reaching its highest level since August 2022.
Between January-February, the terminals at Hampton Roads loaded a combined 5.81mn st of coal, up by 11pc from 5.24mn st loaded during the same period in 2022. This increase reflects higher demand from European buyers that had previously relied on Russian coal purchases.
In January, US thermal coal shipments to Europe jumped to 1.57mn st from 611,140st the same month a year earlier, US Census Bureau data show.
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- On April 6, 2023