Coal trade by sea was hit hard in 2020


SThe maritime trade in coal was one of the biggest ‘losers’ in 2020, as total loadings declined significantly due to lower demand. In a recent weekly report, shipping broker Banchero Costa said that “2020 has turned out to be a really terrible year for the maritime coal trade. Total loadings in the 12 months of 2020 fell -12.7% year-on-year to 1,130 million tonnes, according to ship tracking data from Refinitiv. Despite all the global talk about the “green shift” and the “fight against carbon”, the coal trade was still growing strongly until 2019. It increased by + 2.5% in 2019 and by +3, 2% in 2018. However, Covid-19 and its associated blockages have been a blow to the body ”.

Banchero Costa said that “despite all the noise around China’s ban on Australian coal during the latter part of the year, China was actually still one of the best performers of the year. Chinese imports of coal by sea in 2020 decreased by -8.2% year-on-year to 242.0 mln tonnes. India, the world’s second largest importer of coal, has been more severely affected; imports fell -11.4% year-on-year to 186.0 mln tonnes. But the European Union is by far the least efficient. Coal imports by sea in the EU27 (excluding UK) fell from -32.4% year-on-year in the 12 months of 2020 to just 68.6 mln tonnes, from 101 , 5 mln tonnes in 2019. It was also -44.1% down compared to 122.6 mln tonnes imported in 2018 and -48.0% compared to 131.9 mln tonnes imported in 2017. Obviously, the trend was already there for quite some time. It took a strong acceleration in 2020.

Source: banchero costa & c spa

The main coal import terminals in the European Union (27) are: Rotterdam in the Netherlands (15.7 mln tonnes unloaded in 2020), Amsterdam the Netherlands (5.3 mln tonnes), Hamburg Germany (4.6 mln tonnes), Gdansk Poland (4.2), Dunkirk France (3.2), Ljmuiden Netherlands (3.2), Gijon Spain (2.5), Fos France (2.1) , Ghent Belgium (1.9), Taranto Italy (1.7), Vlissingen Netherlands (1.5), Civitavecchia Italy (1.5), Brindisi Italy (1.3), Koper Slovenia (1.3) , Porto Torres Italy (1.1), Bakar Croatia (1.1), Gdynia Poland (0.9), Oxelosund Sweden (0.9), P. Marghera Italy (0.9) ”, said the shipping broker .

Image: Ocean Yield ASA

He added that “coal shipments to the EU were hit particularly hard in the first half of the year and improved somewhat in the last quarter. In the first 3 months of 2020, the EU imported 17.6 million tonnes of maritime coal, down -42.8% year-on-year. The winter period was traditionally the strongest time of the year, driven by the need for heating. The second quarter of 2020 saw shipments of 15.5 million tonnes to the EU, down -39.5% year-on-year. In the third quarter, imports improved slightly to 16.1 mln tonnes, a decrease of -27.3% year-on-year compared to the same quarter in 2019. The fourth quarter of 2020 saw the best volumes in the year. year, dropping to 19.3 mln tonnes, but it was still down -15.4% year on year. We now forecast that arrivals during the period January-February 2021 will reach 13.0 million tonnes, which would represent a + 3.4% improvement year-on-year compared to the same two-month period last year. . In terms of the origins of the expeditions, things have not changed too much. Arrivals from Russia were the most resilient, declining -11.2% year-on-year to 30.7 mln tonnes in 2020. Russia remains by far the EU’s largest supplier of maritime coal, accounting for 44.7% of volumes in 2020. The vast majority of Russian coal shipments to Europe are loaded in the ports of the Baltic (Gulf of Finland). 58% of last year’s cargoes were shipped from the port of Ust-Luga and 7% from Vysotsk. Outside the Baltic Sea, around 25% of the volumes were shipped from the northern port of Murmansk, and around 6% were loaded at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, ”noted Banchero Costa.

Source: banchero costa & c spa

“After Russia, the second largest exporter of coal to Europe is the United States. US shipments to the EU fell by -38.0% year-on-year to 12.1 million tonnes in 2020, with a 17.7% share of European maritime coal imports. Imports from Australia fell -30.6% year-on-year to 11.0 mln tonnes. Colombia’s shipments to the EU fell -58.1% year-on-year to 5.3 mln tonnes. Imports from other EU countries collapsed -67.7% year-on-year to 1.6 mln tonnes. Volumes are also down -87.5% compared to 12.8 million tonnes in 2018. This is largely due to the diversion of cargoes by Russia from Latvian ports to its own Baltic ports like Ust-Luga ” , concluded the shipping broker.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide