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Seaborne coal imports from China are on the rise this year. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “after a slow start in the first quarter, global coal trade has really picked up pace last year and is now fully back to pre-Covid levels. In the full 12 months of 2022, total global seaborne coal loadings increased by +5.8% y-o-y to 1204.8 mln t (excluding cabotage), from 1138.3 mln t in the full 12 months of 2021, although still below the 1275.6 mln t in Jan-Dec 2019.

Source: Banchero Costa

“As already mentioned, the worst was at start of the year, and the trend in recent months has been increasingly positive. In 1Q 2022, global loadings were down -4.8% y-o-y to just 257.4 mln t, and down -20.3% from 1Q 2019. In 2Q 2022, coal loadings were a strong +8.5% y-o-y at 313.8 mln t, and down -4.1% from 2Q 2019. In 3Q 2022, shipments increased again to 317.2 mln t, up +6.3% y-o-y, and just -0.7% from 3Q 2019. In 4Q 2022, loadings were 316.5 mln t, up +12.9% y-o-y from 4Q 2021, and -0.6% from 4Q 2019. In Jan-Dec 2022, exports from Indonesia increased by +21.1% y-o-y to 388.8 mln t, whilst from Australia down -5.0% y-o-y to 340.4 mln t”, the shipbroker said.

Source: Banchero Costa

According to Banchero Costa, “seaborne coal imports into the European Union surged by +34.0% yo-y to 116.6 mln t in Jan-Dec 2022, whilst imports to India increased by +13.6% y-o-y to 203.8 mln t, and imports to China declined by -3.2% y-o-y to 234.7 mln t. Mainland China is currently the world’s largest seaborne importer of coal (including both thermal and coking), accounting for 26.2% of the global seaborne coal market so far in 2023. It is ahead of India, which accounts for 17.0% of coal trade and Japan with a 12.9% market share”.



“Total seaborne coal imports into China in the 5 months of 2023 reached 138.8 mln tonnes, according to Refinitiv vessel tracking data. This was up 93.4% y-o-y from the 71.8 mln tonnes of 2022, and 47% from the 94.3 mln t in 2021, and also 22.6% above the 113.2 mln tonnes imported in 2020. The year started in line with previous years and much stronger than 2022 with January and February imports at 23.6 and 21.8 mln tonnes respectively. From March coal imports into China started booming with a month on month increase of 45.6% to 31.8 mln tonnes, the strongest monthly record in at least 5 years. In April imports were only marginally lower to 30.4 mln tonnes, -4.4% month on month and 64.7% year on year.

Source: Banchero Costa

“In May imports increased again to 31.3 mln tonnes, 3% higher than in April and 113.6% than May 2022. Around half of coal volumes into China are loaded on Panamax and Post-Panamax vessels, with 27.2% on Supramax and Ultramax vessels and just 19.0% on Capesize tonnage. Indonesia is still by far the top supplier of coal to China accounting for 55.2% of China’s imports in the first 5 months of 2023. Arrivals from Indonesia increased by 83.7% y-o-y to 76.7 mln tonnes in the first 5 months of the year compared to the same period in 2022. The second largest supplier of coal to China is Russia, accounting for a 23.4% share of Chinese imports. Shipments from Russia to China increased by 117.7% y-o-y to 32.5 mln tonnes in Jan-May 2023, from 14.9 mln tonnes in the same period of 2022. On a monthly basis, volumes from Russia to China reached an all-time record of 7.4 mln tonnes in May 2023, +130.9% compared to the monthly average of the previous 5 years. Imports from Russia have surged last year as Europe suspended purchasing from the country. Australia is now back and the third largest supplier of coal into China with a share of 10.4% and 14.5 mln tonnes in the first 5 months of the year, +1262.3% compared to the same period last year”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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