23 Oct 2020

Polish Seaborne Coal Imports Slump

23 Oct 2020  by Tomasz Stepien   

Seaborne coal imports to Poland have shown signs of recovery in recent months but year-to-date volumes remain down on 2019, port figures compiled by Argus show.

Imports to all three Polish ports — Gdansk, Gdynia and the Szczecin-Swinoujscie complex — have fallen on the year, with overall throughput of both thermal and coking coal down by around a third at 4.9mn t. This includes some volume that will have been re-exported to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Argus estimates that thermal coal exports represent around 2.6mn t of the January-September total. Poland is estimated to have received a total of 5mn t of thermal coal in the whole of 2019.

Total Polish imports, including railed volumes from Russia, fell by 25pc on the year in January-August to 6.4mn t, Katowice-based agency ARP data show. And provisional Eurostat figures show net imports to Poland down by 26pc on the year at 5.2mn t over the same period.

Russia, Kazakhstan and Colombia remain Poland's key suppliers, accounting for 5.1mn t, 582,000t and 566,000t, respectively, the ARP data show.

Thermal coal throughput at Polish ports recovered in August-September, but the trend is likely to be short-lived as stocks at each facility remain high. Gdansk Northern Port terminal — the main hub for seaborne imports — has about 1.2mn t of thermal coal in stock, one importer estimates.

Polish wholesalers have boosted purchases since September ahead of the winter heating season and importers expect stocks to be drawn lower as result, but unseasonably high inventory will continue to create bottlenecks for imports into next year, a market participant said.

Thermal coal demand in Poland and the surrounding regions remains subdued, particular from the power sector. Polish exporter Weglokoks recorded a 65pc annual decline in exports to just 184,000t in January-September, all of which was railed.

Polish coal burn has been squeezed by weak power demand during the pandemic, strong electricity imports and rising renewable output, with January-August burn down by 16pc on the year at 13.7mn t according to Warsaw-based consultancy ARE, which monitors the Polish power sector.

Power plants held 4.2mn t in stock at the end of August, which was down by 5pc on the year, but still enough for two-months' coal-fired power generation.

Consumption at combined heat and power (CHP) plants fell by more than 6pc on the year to 5.8mn t in January-August, with stocks up by 15pc on the year.

AOM activity rises

On 15 October, four orders were posted on the Argus AOM platform. A Polish wholesaler posted a November offer for 2,300t of NAR 6,300 kcal/kg DPK sized coal at $90/t Dap Brest, and a Polish importer posted an offer for 1,000t of NAR 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal fines (0-50mm) at $68.50/t FCA Gdansk. Delivery is 22 October-21 November.

In the same trading session, a Russian trader/producer offered a 10,000t cargo of NAR 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal fines at $64/t Dap Brest for delivery in November, and a large importer posted an offer for 2,800t of DPK NAR 5,500-5,800 kcal/kg sized coal (50-200mm) at $79/t Dap Brest.


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