Dry Bulk Market: Seaborne Coal Trade Down 12.7% in 2020
According to the shipbroker, “in the 12 months of 2020, Australia exported 358.1 mln tonnes of coal. This represents a net decline of -7.7% y-o-y, compared to the 388.0 mln tonnes exported in 2019. Australia is still very much the top exporter of coal worldwide. In 2020 Australia extended its lead over Indonesia which exported just 314.4 mln tonnes of coal, down -18.6% year-on-year.
By comparison, coal exports from the USA shrunk by -21.0% y-o-y in 2020 to 67.3 mln tonnes. Shipments from Colombia by -31.8% y-o-y to 50.5 mln. Volumes from Canada were down -18.5% y-o-y to 47.5 mln. The only coal exporters which did relatively well in 2020 were Russia, which saw a minimal -3.2% y-o-y decline to 167.3 mln tonnes, and South Africa which exported 70.0 mln tonnes, a +3.8% bounce back from a very problematic 2019”.
Banchero Costa added that “the main coal export terminals in Australia are Newcastle (156.1 mln tonnes loaded in 2020), Hay Point (93.5 mln), Gladstone (67.8 mln), Abbot Point (28.8 mln), and Port Kembla (6.7 mln). Coal shipments from Australia have been fairly steady this year, without too much seasonality being seen. In the first 3 months of 2020, Australia exported 90.3 mln tonnes of coal, which was down just -1.7% y-o-y. However this percentage reflects a fairly weak Q1 in 2019. The second quarter of 2020 saw shipments of 91.3 mln tonnes from Australia, down -9.2% y-o-y. In the third quarter, imports inched downwards to 87.1 mln tonnes, which was down -10.9% y-o-y from the same quarter in 2019. The worst month of the year was July 2020 with just 26.8 mln tonnes, down -24.5% year-on-year. The fourth quarter of 2020 saw an improvement to 89.4 mln tonnes, which was down -8.6% y-o-y”.
The shipbroker added that “In a hopeful sign, and despite all the newspaper headlines about Chinese bans, December 2020 proved to be the best month of the year. In December 2020, Australian ports shipped 33.9 mln tonnes of coal, which was up +30.3% m-o-m compared to November 2020, and down only -6.3% y-o-y compared to December 2019. Nevertheless, there have been quite remarkable reshuffles in terms of trade patterns this year. Coal exports from Australia to Mainland China declined by -22.2% y-o-y in 2020, to just 70.1 mln tonnes. China was the destination for 19.6% of Australia’s coal. Here things were extremely volatile. In 1Q 2020, shipments from Australia to China increased by +23.7% y-o-y to 20.9 mln tonnes. Volumes in 2Q 2020 reached 29.4 mln tonnes, up +14.0% y-o-y. However, in 3Q 2020 they shrunk to 15.6 mln tonnes, down -37.3% y-o-y. In 4Q 2020, it was just 4.1 mln tonnes, down -81.6% y-o-y. Pretty much the opposite happened to India. In 1Q 2020, Australia exported 10.1 mln tonnes of coal to India, down -2.0% y-o-y. In 2Q 2020 it was just 6.1 mln tonnes, down -52.4% y-o-y. However in 3Q 2020, shipments were up +37.4% y-o-y to 13.4 mln tonnes, and in 4Q 2020 they were +40.9% y-o-y to 17.4 mln tonnes. Overall, exports to India increased by +3.8% y-o-y in 2020 to 47.0 mln tonnes”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide