Coal export loadings at Hampton Roads, Virginia, rose again in June, with two of the region’s terminals handling more coal than a year earlier.
A little over 2.9mn short tons (2.63mn metric tonnes) of coal was loaded at the port last month, the Virginia Maritime Association estimates. That was up from 2.62mn st in June 2022.
Hampton Roads coal exports have topped year-earlier levels every month so far this year despite less-robust spot coal markets. Prices for prompt three-month and prompt two-month metallurgical and thermal coal were at their lowest levels in roughly two years last month, reflecting competition from other coal and fuel sources and ample supply. The port’s export volume gains were likely more reflective of term contract commitments made in 2022 and early 2023.
Most of last month’s increase in Hampton Roads’ export loadings was at Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX terminal, which more than doubled to 803,411st from 293,436st in June 2022. Shipments out of Norfolk Southern’s Lamberts Point also increased, to an estimated 976,810st, up from 936,427st.
The increases at Pier IX and Lamberts Point offset a 19pc decline in loadings at Alpha Metallurgical Resources’ and Arch Resources’ Dominion Terminal Associates (DTA). That terminal handled 1.12mn st last month, down from 1.39mn st a year earlier.
But DTA’s shipments for January-June still were higher than they had been in the same period of 2022, totaling 6.85mn st compared with 6.65mn st.
Lamberts Point and Pier IX also handled more coal for export on a year-to-date basis than they had in January-June 2022. Lamberts Point loadings increased to 6.46mn st from 5.61mn st, while Pier IX’s rose to 4.03mn st from 3.64mn st a year earlier.
Hampton Roads’ volumes are a harbinger of Appalachian coal exports out of the Norfolk, Virginia, Census district, which is one of the largest coal export regions in the US. Exports out of Norfolk climbed to 14.8mn st in the first five months of this year from 13.2mn st in January-May 2022. About 82pc of shipments were metallurgical coal, down from 89pc a year earlier. The rest were thermal coal.
The Commerce Department is scheduled to release preliminary export data for June and the first six months of 2023 on 8 August.
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- On August 1, 2023