Global marine coal trade up in 2017

Global maritime coal trade rose 1.5% last year due to a recovery in production in producing countries such as the United States, Russia and China and a concomitant increase in the export activity, German coal importer lobby VDKI said on Friday.

VDKI (Verein der Kohlenimportere), whose 70 member companies trade hard coal around the world, estimated imports and exports last year at 1.143 billion tonnes, compared to 1.126 billion tonnes in 2016

The figures were given in a speech by chief executive Franz-Josef Wodopia, given at the group’s annual reception in Hamburg and made available to Reuters.

Preliminary figures show the United States increased coal exports from last year by 60%, Russia by almost 7% and South Africa by more than 7%, he said, but did not give total figures.

Colombian exports fell by 4% and those of Australia by nearly 6%, he added.

The latter was hit by Cyclone Debbie, which reduced the production of coking coal for the steel industry, while Australian exports of steam coal, mainly for power generators, remained almost stable.

Regarding global coal production, VDKI said the United States recorded an increase of 7%, China of 2% and India of 3.2% in 2017.

Looking ahead, Wodopia said that in terms of price, China remains in the driver’s seat, as the size of its domestic production determines how much landed coal the country has to import. This largely governs the global trade balance

The International Energy Agency said last month that global coal demand would moderate over the next five years, but with regional differences.

“So far, persistent demand in Southeast Asia continues to offset declining trends in the Atlantic and support coal prices,” Wodopia said.

Reporting by Vera Eckert