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US coal exports drop to 3.5-year low in May: Census

US coal exports tumbled to a 3.5-year low 4.28 million mt in May, as metallurgical and bituminous coal both saw declines, while subbituminous exports rose on the month, according to US Census Bureau data released July 2.

May coal exports were down 13.9% from 4.97 million mt in April and the lowest since 3.88 million mt was exported in September 2016.

Thermal exports fell to 1.58 million mt in May, down 14.6% from April and 54.2% lower year on year.

Year-to-date thermal exports are at 10.96 million mt, down 35.6% from the first five months of 2019 and the lowest since 5.58 million mt was exported in 2016.

The top originating ports for thermal coal this year are Baltimore at 3.86 million mt and Seattle at 2.51 million mt, compared with 5.45 million mt and 1.35 million mt, respectively, a year ago. Norfolk, Virginia, and New Orleans, also shipped out 1.52 million and 1.44 million mt, compared with 1.42 million mt and 5.24 million mt in the first five months of 2019.

Bituminous exports were at 1.07 million mt in May, down 26.3% from April and 67.6% from a year ago.

Egypt received the largest volume of bituminous coal at 288,429 mt in May, compared with zero in April and 334,355 mt in the year-ago month.

Rounding out the top three were the Dominican Republic and Japan, which took deliveries of 172,200 mt and 133,127 mt of bituminous coal in May, compared with 245,000 mt and 308,909 mt, respectively, in April.

India, the largest importer of bituminous coal, did not receive any US coal in May, the first time in over nine years.

Subbituminous exports were at 455,964 mt in May, up 20.8% from April and up nearly fourfold than a year ago.

South Korea received an eight-month high 455,590 mt of subbituminous coal, up from 256,985 mt in April and 45,523 mt in the year-ago month. After receiving 75,961 mt and 44,648 mt in April, respectively, Japan and Mexico did not import any subbituminous coal in May.

Year-to-date bituminous exports are down 41.7% on the year at 8.71 million mt, while subbituminous exports are at 2.13 million mt, up 10%, respectively.

For the year, the top bituminous coal export destinations are India, at 3.6 million mt compared with 4.45 million mt in the year-ago period; Dominican Republic, at 883,832 mt compared with 257,581 mt; Japan, at 776,182 mt compared with 1.75 million mt; South Korea, at 728,796 mt compared with 439,322 million mt; and the Netherlands, at 661,631 mt compared with 2.32 million mt.

The top importing countries of US subbituminous coal for the first five months are South Korea, at 1.73 million mt compared with 1.01 million mt last year; Mexico, at 203,112 compared with 642,163 mt; and Japan, at 151,664 mt, compared with zero in the first five months.

Met coal exports fall 13.4% on month

Metallurgical coal exports fell to 2.71 million mt in May, down 13.4% from 3.13 million mt in April and 43.7% lower year on year. It was the lowest monthly exports for met coal since 2.57 million mt in September 2016.

Turkey took delivery of 295,199 mt in May, down from 534,280 mt in April and 318,880 mt in the year-ago month. Canada imported 293,332 mt in May, up from 307,164 mt in April, while Brazil and the Netherlands took delivery of 275,876 mt and 271,127 mt, respectively, compared with 366,157 mt and 166,688 mt in April.

Year-to-date met exports are at 16.42 million mt, down 24% from the same period a year ago.

For the year, the top metallurgical coal export destinations are Brazil, at 4.12 million mt compared with 5.34 million mt in the year-ago period; India, at 2.38 million mt compared with 2.94 million mt; the Netherlands at 1.96 million mt compared with 4.06 million mt; South Korea, at 1.61 million mt compared with 1.12 million mt; and Ukraine, at 1.6 million mt, compared with 2.19 million mt a year ago.


Source: Platts

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