Russian coal exports up 12.8% in Q1 2021

CAA Contemporary Analytical Agency, May 24, 2021

In January-March 2021, Russian coal exports, including seaborne and overland supplies, surged to 51.0 mio t (+5.8 mio t or +12.8% y-o-y).

Coal handling at the seaports of the Far East soared to 23.9 mio t (+2.2 mio t or +10.0% y-o-y). The growth in coal throughput was driven by enhanced supplies to coal terminals in Vanino, Nakhodka, Posyet, Vladivostok and the port of Vera, owing to steady demand in Asia-Pacific market amid firming indices, spurred by ongoing trade tensions between Australia and China.

Overland shipments to Asia marginally decreased to 2.3 mio t (-1.2% y-o-y). Russian Railways (RZD) was forced to periodically impose bans on rail transportation of coal due to congestion on routes to Russian-Chinese border crossings amid quarantine measures applied by Chinese customs, affecting the reduction in supplies of Russian materials.

Exports through the ports of the Baltic and the Barents Sea remained almost flat totaling 14.2 mio t (-0.3%). Rising coal indices in Europe, driven by higher demand in Q4 2020, continued to grow in Q1 2021 amid expensive gas in the EU along with a cold snap, which led to a decrease in ARA stocks to almost 5-year lows. In addition, issues with coal deliveries from Colombia enabled Russian exporters to replace volumes of Colombian material with increased supplies from some North-Western terminals.

Overland exports to Eastern Europe jumped to 5.5 mio t (+1.6 mio t or +42.4%), largely due to increased coal intake by Ukraine and Poland. In January 2021, a cold snap boosted coal consumption at Ukrainian TPPs, decreasing local coal reserves below record lows to 0.6 mio t (-33% compared to critical levels necessary to maintain stable power supply).

Coal handling at the ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin spiked to 5.1 mio t (+2.0 mio t or +67.1%) amid the boost of supply to OTECO coal terminal in Taman, owing to expanding cooperation with a number of Russian coal exporters, including KTK, Evraz, Invest-Uglesbyt, Topprom, Stroyservis and Russian Coal, while the main volumes were provided by SDS-Ugol and Sibanthracite Group. Due to the limited throughput capacity of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) and the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) to the Far Eastern ports, some Russian coal suppliers reroute their eastbound deliveries to Taman.