Global maritime coal trade shows early signs of recovery
The global maritime coal trade is slowly showing signs of recovery after a difficult 2020 and, to a lesser extent, a first half of 2021. In a recent weekly note, shipping broker Banchero Costa said that “2020 has turned out to be a truly terrible year for global maritime coal. Trade. Total global 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. In 2021, so far things were still very bad, but we are seeing more and more signs of a return to “normal”.
According to the shipping broker, “In the first 6 months of 2021, the global maritime coal trade decreased by -0.5% year on year to 577.0 mln tonnes. However, the worst came in the first quarter, when 1Q 2021 saw a decline of -8.8% yoy to 278.2 mln t. Things have steadily improved month after month. In June 2021, world coal trade increased to 101.9 mln t, or + 8.1% year on year compared to June 2020, and the highest monthly figure since March 2020. However, it was still in decrease of -6.6% compared to June 2019. In the second quarter of 2021 as a whole, global coal loadings reached 298.9 mln tonnes, or + 8.6% year-on-year compared to 2Q 2020 “.
Banchero Costa focuses on India, which is the world’s second largest importer of coal, just after mainland China. “In 2020, India accounted for 17.0% of global coal shipments by sea. India’s maritime coal imports in the 12 months of 2020 decreased -11.4% year-on-year to 186.0 mln tonnes. This is a larger drop than that recorded in mainland China (-8.2% yoy), Japan (-4.0% yoy) and Taiwan (-9.0% yoy), but less than in the European Union (-32.4% yoy) and South Korea (-16.2% year-on-year). For India, the worst last year was in the second and third quarters. In the first quarter of 2020, India imported 55.1 million tonnes of coal, which represents a positive increase of + 7.2% year-on-year. In the second quarter of 2020, imports collapsed to 35.7 million tonnes, down -40.4% year-on-year, as the country implemented a strict lockdown that affected even the unloading operations of goods. ports. In 3Q 2020, imports to India rebounded to 41.5 mln tonnes, an improvement over the second quarter, but still down -12.6% year-on-year. In 4Q 2020, imports jumped to 53.7 mln tonnes, + 5.0% year-on-year. Things softened a bit again in Q1 2021 as India imported 48.0 million tonnes of coal, which is -13.0% year-on-year decline from very high 1Q levels. 2020 ”.
The shipping broker added that “the second quarter of 2021 was again very positive, with 55.3 million tonnes, up + 54.9% year-on-year from the second quarter (very bad, affected by the lockdown) from last year. More importantly, this is the best quarter since the 1Q pre-Covid 2020. The months of April 2021 and May 2021 were particularly positive, with 18.9 mln tonnes (+ 20.4% year-on-year) and 19.0 mln tonnes (+ 73.8% year-on-year). May 2021 was indeed the best monthly figure since May 2019. In June 2021, things cooled a little to 17.4 mln tonnes, which nevertheless remains + 92.2% compared to the terrible 9.1 mln of tonnes of June 2020. In terms of import sources of coal. in India things have changed a bit.
Australia has now become the largest exporter of coal to India, as it has had to divert cargoes it would have sold in the past to China. India’s imports from Australia increased 120.3% year-on-year to 39.4 million tonnes in the first 6 months of 2021, from 17.9 million tonnes in the same period by 2020. Australia now accounts for 38% of India’s coal imports. The second largest source of Indian coal imports is Indonesia, with a share of 30%. This is a decrease from a share of 39% in the first half of 2020. Shipments from Indonesia to India decreased -11.6% year-on-year to 31.1 mln tonnes in the year. during the first 6 months of 2021, up from 35.2 mln tonnes in the same period of 2020. Volumes from South Africa to India also fell by -12.1% yoy to 14, 8 million tonnes so far this year, ”concluded Banchero Costa.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide