US thermal coal exports rose in July from year-earlier levels for the third consecutive month, helped by increased demand from industrial buyers.
Steam coal shipments from the US climbed to 3.05mn short tons (2.77mn metric tonnes) in July from 2.48mn st a year earlier, US Commerce Department data released today showed. Metallurgical coal exports also rose, bringing total coal shipments up to 7.14mn st from 6.29mn st in July 2022.
The data suggested some industrial buyers were taking more high-sulfur, high-calorific value coal. Thermal coal exports out of Baltimore, Maryland — the primary exit point for Northern Appalachian coal — more than doubled to 1.03mn st in July from 427,300st a year earlier.
Most of the steam coal out of Baltimore, which typically has a heat content of around NAR 6,900 kcal/kg and sulfur between 2.5-3pc, was headed to India. Other countries in Asia, Africa and Europe were the destination for just 162,434st of thermal coal shipped from Baltimore last month.
Some international utility buyers also appeared to be taking more coal to replenish stockpiles in the midst of the northern hemisphere’s summer season.
US bituminous thermal coal exports to South Korea and Japan also rose from year-earlier levels in July. In addition, sub-bituminous coal shipments to Japan climbed from the same month of 2022, while volumes of that type of coal to South Korea dipped by 2.1pc. Most of the shipments to those countries were exported out of the West Coast of North America.
All told, US steam coal exports to Asia increased to 1.87mn st in July from 1.07mn st a year earlier.
Meanwhile, US steam coal shipments to Europe rose for a second month to 617,504st in July from 592,717st a year earlier. This included gains in shipments to Belgium, France and Italy that offset decreases in volumes to the Netherlands and the UK.
More than half of the thermal coal exports to Europe were shipped out of the Mobile, Alabama, and Norfolk, Virginia, Census districts. Steam coal exports out of Mobile headed to Europe rose to 237,157st from 84,878st, while shipments from Norfolk — the main exit point for Central Appalachian coal —increased to 198,274st from zero in July 2022.
Steam coal exports out of New Orleans, Louisiana — the main exit point for high-sulfur Illinois basin coal — to Europe fell to 86,345st from 356,987st in the same month of 2022. July was the sixth consecutive month that exports from New Orleans to Europe declined from year-earlier levels.
For the first seven months of 2023, US steam coal exports rose to 26.8mn st from 22.7mn st in the same period of 2022, with shipments to Africa, Asia, Europe, North America higher than a year prior. Metallurgical coal exports were also up year-over-year between January-July, rising to 29.1mn st from 27.4mn st.
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- On September 7, 2023