Bulk shipping of U.S. coal on the rise

U.S. coal shipments to East Asia and Europe are rebounding and expected to offer a much needed boost to the world’s dry bulk carriers through 2017, according to recent analysis published by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO).

 

U.S. coal shipments to East Asia and Europe are rebounding and expected to offer a much needed boost to the world’s dry bulk carriers through 2017, according to recent analysis published by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO).
   “If U.S. coal exports remain high throughout 2017 it will have a solid effect on the global seaborne coal trade and support the overall improvement of the dry bulk shipping industry,” said Peter Sands, BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst, in a statement.
   BIMCO’s analysis covered U.S. coal exports from the first quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of this year. It reported in December 2016 that the ton-miles of U.S. coal exports halved during the three previous years due to fewer shipments to East Asia and shrinking demand for this commodity from Europe. The third quarter of 2016 marked the lowest export volumes of U.S. coal in 10 years.
   U.S. coal exports by sea are now up 57 percent in total volume and 61 percent in ton-miles for the first half of 2017, compared to the same period last year. East Asian imports of U.S. coal rose 172 percent in the first six months of this year, compared to 2016, amounting to an increase of 5.9 million tons. The largest Asian importers of U.S. coal remain South Korea, Japan and India.
   “A rising U.S. coal trade has a multiplying effect on the dry bulk shipping industry, as it provides some of the longest sailing distances,” Sands explained. “East Asian importers source 61 percent of their U.S. coal from Norfolk, Va. and Baltimore, Md., and thereby accept a journey of up to 45 sailing days at an average speed of 13 knots (14,000 nautical miles).”
   Europe remains the largest importer of U.S. coal. The continent imported 4.8 million tons more coal from the United States in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period last year, for an increase of 43 percent. 
   “The Netherlands have, in the last 10 years, been the main importer of U.S. coal both in Europe and on a global scale,” BIMCO said.

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