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Russian coal exports down, tonne-miles up

Photo: Unsplash coal power station with ships in foreground.jpg
In the two months since the EU banned coal imports from Russia, export volumes have fallen 7% on-year, according to Bimco.

The EU’s import ban began on August 10, 2022 and in the almost two months since, Russia’s coal export volumes were down 7% year-on-year and 5% year to date, the association said.

With the EU off-limits, Russia has had to look further afield for coal consumers, leading to a near-30% increase in tonne-mile demand, despite the lower volumes. The average haul for Russian coal has risen by almost 50% since sanctions were announced in April.

“So far, capesizes have seen the biggest increase in tonne miles following the ban, largely due to India’s increased interest in discounted Russian coal. India’s government mandated an increase in coal imports over the summer, due to a surge in energy demand and low coal inventories. This resulted in a boost to tonne miles as capesizes laden with Russian coal from European ports sailed around Africa,” says Filipe Gouveia, Shipping Analyst at Bimco. 

“As import demand from India normalises, it is unclear whether the country will continue to buy Russian coal shipped from primarily Black Sea, Baltic and Arctic ports,” Gouveia said.

Although China has imported 25.7% less coal year-to-date, volumes from Russia rose by 3.5% due to bargain prices. China is Russia’s largest coal buyer, supplying over a fifth of China’s importsa

“In the coming months, panamax and supramax ships should continue to see demand from China for Russian coal. However, the country’s ambitious coal mining target and increasing investments in renewable energy could cool the appetite for coal imports. In the first eight months, coal mining increased 13.8%, while electricity production from renewables rose 16.7%,” adds Gouveia. 

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