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Dry Bulk Market: Ton Mile Demand Is Increasing

The war in Ukraine is having a significant impact in the seaborne coal trade, with India’s coal imports from Russia becoming a major trade and having a significant effect on ton-mile demand. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal said that “India is one of the world’s largest coal producers and one of the world’s largest importers of coal. The country uses coal mainly for power generation and is the third largest energy consumer, making it a vital commodity for India. According to Reuters, the country’s coal demand for power generation is expected to be 821,000 kt in the focus year 2023-2024, an increase of 8% compared to last year”.

Source: Intermodal

According to Intermodal’s Research Analyst, Mr. Fotis Kanatas, “looking at India’s seaborne coal imports, there is an increase of 19% from 2021 to 2022, with imports standing at 208,034.13 kt. This year, the country has already imported volumes equivalent to 37% of last year’s imports, or 76,728.95 kt, a figure that is expected to rise further as we enter the second half of the year, and it is expected that more coal will be needed to meet the country’s electricity demand. A closer look at quarterly coal imports shows that in 2021 and 2022, Q2 was the strongest period with 51,859.07 kt and 64,261.28 kt respectively. This makes sense as India’s peak power season is in the summer months and stockpiling is needed to ensure energy security. On the steel front, the country is also experiencing growth in this industry. In 2023, India’s steel demand is expected to be in the range of 130mmt -135mmt, about 6% higher than last year”.

“Taking a look at India’s top importers, the top 4 are Indonesia, Australia, South Africa and Russia. As far as Indonesia is concerned, shipments to India have been increasing since 2021 and the trend is likely to continue. They totalled 49,417.93 kt in 2021, 86,675.97 kt in 2022 and currently stand at 31,530.67 kt for 2023, which is 36% of last year’s imports. The same cannot be said for Australia and South Africa, as both countries’ coal exports to India have been declining since 2021. Australia exported 68,003.09 kt in 2021, 55,440.31 kt in 2022 and 13,384.15 kt so far in 2023, 24% of last year’s exports. South Africa exported 24,347.48 kt in 2021, 17,255.53 kt in 2022 and 9,230.68 kt so far in 2023, which is 53% of the 2022 volume, a remarkable figure, and the biggest amongst the top 4 exporters”, Mr. Kanatas said.

Source: Intermodal

Intermodal’s analyst went on to note that the “the same is true for Russia. India imported 6,987.85 kt in 2021, 18,941.25 kt in 2022, while imports so far stand at 9,523.40 kt, which is 50% of last year’s imports. This could be explained by the traditionally lower price of South African coal compared to Australian coal, while Russian coal became more lucrative after the invasion of Ukraine. The largest percentages of volume shipped to India this year compared to last are from South Africa and Russia, indicating a strong interest to continue on this path. This means that the demand for tonne miles is increasing, which in turn supports freight rates. The vessel types most used in this trade are Kamsarmax and Capesize. If the trend continues and India continues to import more coal from distant countries, rates for the trade may increase”, Mr. Kanatas concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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