Dry bulk market: the resumption of trade in coal by sea in 2021


VSCoal exports have experienced a significant recovery so far in 2021, contributing to the recovery of the dry bulk market, despite the recent correction. In its latest weekly report, shipping broker Banchero Costa said that “2020 has turned out to be a really terrible year for the global maritime coal trade. In 2021 things started off rather badly, but we are seeing more and more signs of a return to “normal”. During the first 9 months of 2021, the global maritime coal trade increased by + 4.7% year-on-year to reach 884.9 mln tonnes, compared to 845.2 mln tonnes over the period January-September 2020. However, it is still -8.9% compared to 971.8 mln tonnes from January to September 2019. The worst was in the first quarter, while the 1Q 2021 recorded a decrease of -8, 2% yoy to 278.0 mln t, which was also a massive drop of -12.6%. compared to the first quarter (pre-Covid) of 2019. In the second quarter of 2021, global coal loadings reached 298.3 mln tonnes, or + 8.7% year-on-year compared to 2Q 2020, and in down -9.7% compared to 2Q 2019. The third quarter of 2021 was even better, with global coal volumes reaching 308.5 mln tonnes, i.e. + 15.2% up compared to 3Q 2020 , although this remains down -4.6% compared to 3Q 2019 ”.

Source: banchero costa & c spa

According to Banchero Costa, “Australia is still the world’s largest coal exporter, accounting for 30.8% of global coal exports by sea this year, ahead of Indonesia’s 27.9%. The main coal export terminals in Australia are Newcastle (156.1 mln tonnes loaded from January to December 2020), Hay Point (93.5 mln), Gladstone (67.8 mln), Abbot Point (28.8 mln) mln) and Port Kembla (6.7 mln). Australian coal shipments were fairly stable last 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 edged down to 87.1 million tonnes, down -10.9% year-on-year from the same quarter of 2019. The fourth quarter of 2020 saw an improvement to 89.1 million tonnes, a decrease of -8.9% year-on-year ”.

The shipping broker added that “volumes were even lower in the first quarter of 2021, with Australia exporting 85.1 million tonnes of coal, representing a -5.8% year-on-year decline from levels in the 1Q 2020, and down -7.4% from the first quarter of 2019. In the second quarter of 2021, Australia exported 91.2 million tonnes, down only -0.1% year-on-year from compared to the (weak) second quarter of last year, but down -9.3% compared to the same quarter of 2019. In 3Q 2021, things suddenly improved a lot, at 96.1 mln tonnes , i.e. + 10.3% more year-on-year than in Q3 2020, and just -1.8% below the 97.8 mln tonnes of J3T 2019. Overall during the first 9 months of 2021, the Australia exported 272.3 mln tonnes of coal, which was up + 1.3% year-on-year compared to the same period in 2020, although down -6.2% compared to the same period of 2019. Nonetheless, there have been some pretty noticeable changes in terms of business structures this year. Australia’s coal exports to mainland China fell -96.9% year-on-year from January to October 2021, to just 2.0 million tonnes.

Source: banchero costa & c spa

China was the destination for just 0.7% of Australian coal this year. The reverse is true of India. From January to October 2021, Australia exported 51.6 million tonnes of coal to India, up + 74.0% year-on-year. India is now the destination for 19% of all Australian coal exports. Similar growth was also observed in South Korea. Australia exported 47.2 million tonnes of coal to Korea during this period, which represents an increase of + 50.6% year-on-year. Australia’s shipments to the European Union also jumped + 38.4% year-on-year to 11.2 mln tonnes. However, the first destination remains Japan, with 84.7 mln tonnes in January 2021, up + 16.7% year-on-year. Japan is now the destination for 31.1% of Australia’s coal exports, with Korea 17.3%, Taiwan 9.8% and the EU 4.1%. , concluded Banchero Costa.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide