In November, India experienced a notable surge in long-haul thermal coal imports, with shipments from the United States peaking at 1.40 million tonnes (MT), marking the highest level in over a year. The information comes from energy intelligence firm Kpler, which reported that India’s total thermal coal imports for the month amounted to 17.51 MT, slightly lower than the 15-month high of 18.66 MT recorded in October 2023. Despite a month-on-month decrease, the data reveals a year-on-year increase of 6.92 MT.
Overview of November Imports
- India imported a total of 17.51 MT of thermal coal in November, slightly lower than the 15-month high recorded in October 2023.
- Kpler’s Lead Major Dry Bulks Analyst, Alexis Ellender, revealed that seaborne coal imports amounted to 23.27 MT, a decrease from October but still a YoY increase of 6.92 MT.
- Cumulatively, from January to November 2023, India’s coal shipments totaled 222.43 MT, reflecting an 11.39 MT increase compared to the same period the previous year.
- Despite a decline from October’s peak, November’s thermal coal imports reached 17.51 MT, setting a new high for the month.
Rise in Long-Haul Cargoes from the US
- A notable highlight was the substantial increase in long-haul coal shipments from the US, reaching the highest level in over two years at 1.40 MT. This surge was attributed to the US aiming to export surplus domestic coal.
- Over the years, the US has been a significant coal supplier to India, with fluctuations in import volumes. In FY22, India imported 14.37 MT from the US, showing a decline in FY23 to 13.69 MT.
Shifts in Overseas Suppliers
- In 2022, Indonesia emerged as India’s largest overseas supplier of thermal coal, surpassing Australia and South Africa. Meanwhile, Russia surpassed the US to become the fourth-largest supplier.
- Despite this, the US maintained its position as India’s second-largest supplier of coking coal after Australia, as of October 2023. Russia secured the third position in coking coal supplies.
Stability in Other Imports
- Monthly imports from other suppliers remained relatively stable or experienced a modest month-on-month decline.
- Indonesia remained the dominant thermal coal supplier in November, contributing 10.46 MT. This decrease in imports coincided with a seasonal rise in domestic coal production and dispatches.
Stockpile Dynamics and Outlook
- The combination of annual import growth, increased domestic supply, and reduced power demand due to falling temperatures supported restocking efforts at Indian power stations.
- By the end of November, coal stockpiles at major power plants monitored by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) rose to 27.09 MT, marking the highest level since mid-September.
- Despite the increase, stockpiles were still below the November 2022 level, prompting expectations of further seaborne imports. With domestic supply projected to rise in December, a month-on-month decrease in seaborne thermal coal imports is anticipated, although still exceeding levels from the previous year.
Questions Related to Exams
Q: Why did India experience a surge in thermal coal imports from the US in November?
A: Long-haul coal cargoes from the US reached a two-year high at 1.40 MT, driven by India’s effort to import surplus domestic supply.
Q: How does the historical data reflect India’s thermal coal imports from the US?
A: Historical trends show fluctuations from 12.03 MT in FY18 to a peak of 14.37 MT in FY22, followed by a slight decline to 13.69 MT in FY23.
Q: What shifts occurred in India’s overseas thermal coal suppliers in 2022?
A: Indonesia emerged as the largest supplier, surpassing Australia and South Africa, while Russia overtook the US to become the fourth-largest supplier.
Q: What is the status of the US as a coking coal supplier to India as of October 2023?
A: The US is India’s second-largest coking coal supplier after Australia, with Russia holding the third spot. Shipments from the US increased by 9% year-on-year.