Coal exports out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, reached their highest level in more than four years last month, in part because of a shift in the timing of vessel departures and arrivals.
Shipments out of the region jumped to 3.23mn short tons (2.93mn metric tonnes) in August from 2.91mn st a year earlier, according to Virginia Maritime Association estimates released today. The last time exports from Hampton Roads coal terminals were higher was in March 2019, when 3.26mn st of coal was loaded for international shipment.
August 2023 volumes rebounded from a 7.8pc drop in July, which had been the first year-on-year decrease for Hampton Roads’ coal exports since November 2022. Association data show 43 coal ships set sail from Hampton Roads last month, up from 38 in July and 37 in August 2022. At the same time, 32 ships arrived at Hampton Roads, compared with 36 in July and 31 a year earlier.
Some countries also remain interested in low-sulfur, high calorific value thermal coal from Central Appalachia, an alternative to Russian coal. The US Commerce Department has estimated that US thermal coal shipments out of the Norfolk, Virginia, Census district – which includes Hampton Roads – rose to 3.6mn st January-July from a little over 2mn st a year earlier. Metallurgical coal shipments out of Norfolk, which account for most of the district’s exports, fell by 1.3pc from January-July 2022, to 16.6mn st.
The Commerce Department has not yet reported August 2023 export estimates.
According to the maritime association, exports out of all three Hampton Roads coal terminals rose last month from the same period of 2022. Shipments from Dominion Terminal Associates (DTA) – which is co-owned by Alpha Metallurgical Resources and Arch Resources – and Kinder Morgan’s Pier IX increased to 1.16mn st and 841,703st, respectively, from 961,214st and 813,300st a year earlier. And Norfolk Southern’s Lamberts Point handled 1.22mn st of coal for export in August, a 7.9pc increase from the same month of 2022.
In July, lower exports out of Lamberts Point and Pier IX offset an increase in shipments from DTA to bring shipments for that month down to 2.81mn st from 3.05mn st.
Still, all three Hampton Roads coal terminals have loaded more coal onto export vessels on a year-to-date basis than they had in the same period of 2022. Total loadings for January-August rose to 23.4mn st from 21.9mn st.
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- On September 21, 2023