SAirborne coal trade declined in 2020 as major exporters registered lower trade figures. In its latest weekly report, shipping broker Banchero Costa said that “in the 12 months of 2020, global trade in coal by sea has declined by as much as -12.7% year-on-year, according to data from tracking Refinitiv’s ships, as closures shut down much of the global economy. Nonetheless, the Pacific Basin (and particularly China and Vietnam) has remained one of the few bright spots on the global map , which has helped to support demand for Australian coal. In fact, âDown Underâ coal exports have declined less than most other major exporters. â
According to the shipping broker, âIn the 12 months of 2020 Australia exported 358.1 million tonnes of coal. This represents a net decrease of -7.7% year-on-year, from 388.0 million tonnes exported in 2019. Australia is still the world’s largest coal exporter. In 2020, Australia strengthened its lead over Indonesia, which exported only 314.4 million tonnes of coal, down -18.6% over one year.
By comparison, US coal exports declined -21.0% year-on-year in 2020 to 67.3 mln tonnes. Shipments from Colombia -31.8% year-on-year to 50.5 million. Volumes from Canada were down -18.5% year-on-year to 47.5 million. “
Banchero Costa added that âthe main coal export terminals in Australia are Newcastle (156.1 mln tonnes loaded in 2020), Hay Point (93.5 mln), Gladstone (67.8 mln), Abbot Point ( 28.8 mln) and Port Kembla (6.7 mln). Australian coal shipments have been fairly stable this year, without much seasonality. In the first 3 months of 2020, Australia exported 90.3 million tonnes of coal, down just -1.7% year-on-year. However, this percentage reflects a fairly low Q1 in 2019. The second quarter of 2020 saw shipments of 91.3 mln tonnes from Australia, down -9.2% year-on-year. In the third quarter, imports fell slightly to 87.1 mln tonnes, a decrease of -10.9% year-on-year compared to the same quarter in 2019. The worst month of the year was July 2020 with only 26.8 mln tonnes, down -24.5% year-on-year. year. The fourth quarter of 2020 saw an improvement to 89.4 mln tonnes, a decrease of -8.6% year-on-year â.
The shipping broker added that âin a sign of hope, and despite all the headlines in the newspapers on Chinese bans, December 2020 turned out to be the best month of the year. In December 2020, Australian ports shipped 33.9 million tonnes of coal, up + 30.3% month-on-month from November 2020, and down just -6.3% year-on-year from to December 2019. Nonetheless, there have been some pretty noticeable revamps in terms of business models this year. Australia’s coal exports to mainland China fell -22.2% year-on-year in 2020, to just 70.1 million tonnes. China was the destination for 19.6% of Australian coal. Things were extremely volatile here. In Q1 2020, shipments from Australia to China increased + 23.7% year-on-year to reach 20.9 mln tonnes. Volumes in 2Q 2020 reached 29.4 mln tonnes, up + 14.0% year-on-year. However, in Q3 2020, they fell to 15.6 million tonnes, down -37.3% year-on-year. In 4Q 2020, it was only 4.1 million tonnes, down -81.6% year-on-year. The reverse is true of India. In the first quarter of 2020, Australia exported 10.1 million tonnes of coal to India, down -2.0% year-on-year. In 2Q 2020, it was only 6.1 million tonnes, down -52.4% year-on-year. However, in 3Q 2020, shipments increased + 37.4% yoy to 13.4 million tonnes, and in 4Q 2020 they were + 40.9% yoy to 17.4 million tonnes. . Globally, exports to India increased by + 3.8% year-on-year in 2020 to reach 47.0 mln tonnes, âconcluded Banchero Costa.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide