SThe airborne coal trade has reversed the downward trend of the past two years, with 2021 being in positive territory so far. In a recent weekly report, shipping broker Banchero Costa said that “2021 continues to see a steady but consistent recovery in demand for coal and therefore trade as well. During the first 10 months of 2021, global maritime coal trade increased by + 5.1% year-on-year to 984.7 mln tonnes, compared to 936.7 mln tonnes over the period January-October 2020. However, , this is still a decrease of -9.1% compared to the 1083.7 mln tonnes of January 2019. The worst this year was in the first quarter, while the 1Q 2021 recorded a decrease of – 8.6% yoy to 276.7 mln t, which was also a whopping -12.6% down from the first quarter (pre-Covid) of 2019. In the second quarter of 2021, global shipments of coal reached 297.0 mln tonnes, or + 8.2% year-on-year compared to 2Q 2020, and down -10.1% compared to 2Q 2019 The third quarter of 2021 was even better, with global coal volumes reaching 306.6 mln tonnes, an increase of + 14.5% year-on-year compared to 3Q 2020, although it is still down -5.2% compared to port in Q3 2019. October 2021 was again strong, with 104.4 mln tonnes, up + 14.1% year-on-year. Colombia is the world’s sixth largest exporter of coal by sea and the second largest in the Americas after the United States. The export volumes of this South American country have steadily declined in recent years, as it is penalized by the drop in demand for coal in the Atlantic basin, and by its distance from more resilient Asian markets ” .
According to Banchero Costa, “Colombia’s total maritime coal exports in the 12 months of 2020 reached 50.3 million tonnes, -32.2% year-on-year, according to Refinitiv’s vessel tracking data. However, even 2019 saw a drop in exports of -4.8% year-on-year, just like 2018 with a -6.4% decline year-on-year. The vast majority of Colombian coal exports are loaded on the north (Caribbean) coast of the country. The two main ports are Puerto Drummond, which accounted for 27.1 million tonnes in 2020, and Puerto Bolivar (which experienced the largest decline) with 12.1 million tonnes in 2020. Other nearby ports are Puerto Nuevo, from where 6.7 million tons of coal were loaded in 2020, and Santa Maria with 1.6 mln tons.
The shipping broker added that “the only major port on the west coast (Pacific Ocean) of Colombia is Buenaventura, from which 2.3 million tonnes of coal were loaded in 2020. The Aguadulce terminal at the port of Buenaventura has grown since its launch in March. 2017, with facilities to load Panamax, Handymax and Supramax ships. Japan is currently the main destination for Buenaventura’s shipments, with South Korea, India and Chile also receiving coal from the port. In the first 3 months of 2021, Colombia exported 13.6 million tonnes of coal, down -19.7% year-on-year. In the second quarter of 2021, Colombia exported 13.1 mln tonnes, up + 2.9% year-on-year compared to a very weak 2Q 2020 but down -30.5% compared to the same quarter in 2019. In 3Q 2021, things improved a little, with 14.5 mln tonnes, which was + 31.8% year-on-year compared to 3Q 2020, although still -23.7% in below the 19.0 mln tonnes of 3Q 2019. Overall in the first 10 months of 2021, Colombia exported 46.1 mln tonnes of coal, an increase of + 6.6% year-on-year compared to the same period in 2020, although down -25.0% compared to the same period in 2019 ”.
“Nonetheless, there have been some pretty remarkable changes in terms of business structures. Colombia’s coal exports to the EU increased by + 83.8% year-on-year in January 2021, reaching 7.1 mln tonnes. However, they are still far from the 10.0 mln tonnes on this route during the same period of 2019, not to mention the 22 mln tonnes in January-October 2017. Shipments to China continue to grow and were 3 , 7 mln tonnes in January-October 2021., double the 1.7 mln tonnes for the same period last year. The first destination remains Turkey, however, with 10.5 million tonnes in January 2021, down -5.1% year-on-year, ”concluded Banchero Costa.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide