(Montel) Colombia has more than doubled thermal coal exports to northwest Europe so far this year, versus the corresponding period in 2021, as importers battle to replace delayed Russian deliveries at a time of still strong demand.
A coal analyst with a large producer said the rise had been anticipated, as Russian suppliers had been “struggling” to fulfil their export obligations.
Russian coal exports so far this year had been beset with logistical issues, due to rail network constraints and freezing weather, according to sources from the region.
For instance, exports from Russia’s main northwest European coal terminal, at Ust-Luga on the Baltic Sea, amounted to just 1.4m tonnes over the year to date period, down from 2m tonnes in 2021, vessel tracking data showed.
As such, stocks at four key Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp terminals this week diminished to multi-year lows of just 2.8m tonnes – the lowest since Montel began collating the data in 2012.
And any available spot material has been commanding high premiums, with a March-loading cargo – for delivery in Amsterdam or Rotterdam – changing hands on Tuesday via broker Global Coal at USD 27 above the prevailing regional index price, of around USD 195.50/t.
Total Colombian exports
The rise in Colombian shipments to Europe came amid a more modest 10% increase on the year in total exports last month, to 4.8m tonnes, according to dry bulk data provider DBX.
And the firm provisionally forecasts exports to fall to just 3.9m tonnes this month, albeit much in line with February last year.
An analyst with a Colombian coal supplier said there had been a “constant queue of vessels, even since December” at the key Puerto Drummond export terminal and that port stocks were low.
“There has also been some rain this year affecting production but no problems with infrastructure that I am aware of,” he said.