US thermal coal exports resumed year-on-year increases in May despite flagging demand from buyers in Europe.
Steam coal shipments climbed to just over 4mn short tons (3.63mn t) from 3.07mn st in May 2022, according to US Commerce Department data released on 6 July. This followed an 11pc decrease in exports in April.
May’s year-on-year gain was the fifth since December 2022, but might be reflecting transactions conducted earlier this year or last year. Exports to Europe, which briefly overtook Asia as the top destination for US thermal coal from August 2022-January 2023, fell from year-earlier levels for a third consecutive month in May as EU utilities continued to contend with above-average inventories.
US steam coal shipments to Europe fell to 937,155st in May from 1.03mn st a year earlier. While volumes to the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Italy were higher than they had been in May 2022, shipments to the UK, Poland and Ireland dropped. The US shipped no coal to the three latter countries in May, compared with 306,346st to the UK, 123,466st to Poland and 37,550st to Ireland a year earlier.
Meanwhile, US thermal coal exports to Asia rebounded in May to 2.22mn st from 1.15mn st a year earlier after declining in April.
Gains in shipments to Asia were led by volumes to India and Japan, both of which more than doubled from year-earlier levels to 1.22mn st and 511,794st, respectively, in May. US thermal coal exports to South Korea also increased, to 482,095st from 385,086st.
South Korean utilities recently closed tenders for low-sulfur coal imports that could support some US shipments in coming months, including for sub-bituminous coal out of the western US. But spot shipments to India are expected to flag in coming months given the price advantage petroleum coke has had over high-sulfur coal since late-February.
US thermal coal exports to Africa also increased, to 533,554st from 445,043st. Nearly all of the volume was headed to Morocco and Egypt.
US steam coal exports to Mexico also increased, to 24,505st from 4,044st a year earlier. That offset a 7pc decline in shipments to Canada, which fell to 127,251 st. Taken together, US shipments to neighboring North American countries Canada and Mexico rose to 151,756st from 140,794st a year earlier.
Thermal coal exports to Central and South America decreased from May 2022 levels as declines in shipments to Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador outweighed a gain in volumes to the Dominican Republic.
US metallurgical coal exports also rose in May, to 4.69mn st from 4.47mn st, supported by increased volumes to India, China, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Canada and Brazil.
Total US exports climbed by 15pc to 8.69mn st in May from a year earlier.
View article here.
- On July 11, 2023