Baltic coal shipments fall on week due to low spring demand

Thirty-seven ships were in the Russia-Baltic seaborne thermal coal region Monday, down from 43 a week earlier, according to cFlow, Platts trade flow software.

Despite ice build-up in the region subsiding over the last few weeks, the fall in coal shipping was due to week demand from the key Northwest European market, according to sources.

Russian coal is still offered into Europe but there is a lack of bids,” a trader in NWE said.

cFlow also shows the number of coal ships departing from Baltic ports over the last week was 28, down by two from the previous week.

Other sources said they expected coal trading to slow down in the near term due to weak physical demand with milder temperatures.

As well as this weaker demand, S&P Global Platts data showed coal stockpiles at the three terminals in the Netherlands, EMO, OBA, and OVET, were 4.09 million mt, up 30,000 mt week on week.

cFlow shows three of the seven laden coal vessels arriving at ARA terminals over the last week had been Russian-origin coal, basis 50,000 mt minimum, while five ships laden with Russian coal had arrived the previous week.

Platts weekly FOB Russia Baltic price fell in line with the delivered-Europe market and was assessed at $72.40/mt Friday, down $1.90 week on week, and the origin continues to be the cheapest source of coal for customers on the continent.

Dry bulk freight rates from the region to Europe have moved sideways for the last several weeks owing to limited spot fixtures on the route, and Platts assessed the Ventspils to Rotterdam route for a Panamax cargo at $7.50/mt Monday, unchanged week on week.

Shipping sources were not expecting any additional spot fixtures for coal in the near term owing to poor physical demand and the upcoming Easter holidays.

The key terminals include Ventspils, Riga, Ust Luga, St Petersburg, Murmansk, and Vysotsk.

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