Coal fell to the northwest - Newspaper Kommersant No. 14 (7459) dated 01/26/2023

Despite isolation from European markets, Russian coal supplies via the northwest direction are recovering amid the resolution of problems with freight and the search for ships. According to Russian Railways, loading at the ports of the region began to improve in October, and in January it is almost a third higher than in 2022. Market participants confirm the trend, and analysts note that as long as prices in Asian markets remain above $150 per ton, coal supplies there will be profitable even through the ports of the North-West.

Deliveries of coal through the ports of the North-West at the end of last year began to recover, said Alexei Shilo, Deputy Director General of Russian Railways. “The trend continues in January: we are transporting coal to the ports of the North-West with an increase of 32.9% compared to January last year,” he added. The top manager stressed that in January all ports were loaded with coal.

“The coal miners did a great job and were able to solve the logistical difficulties in the third or fourth quarters related to the search for ships, with the choice of optimal supply points,” explained Mr. Shilo. .

Coal miners confirm the data of Russian Railways. Logistics Director of SUEK Denis Rakhimzhanov says that in January, transportation through the ports of the North-West increased, including at SUEK. This figure exceeds the level of December 2022. “The main directions are Morocco, Turkey, Israel, we also supply coal to India and China through the Suez Canal,” he explains.

“Solving issues with chartering and insurance of ships against the backdrop of lower freight rates helped the ports of the North-West to resume loading coal for export,” says another interlocutor among coal miners. “Transshipment of transit coal has increased significantly.” Deliveries through the ports of the South have grown steadily throughout 2022 and continue to increase largely due to the Asian markets, he adds, noting that the bulk of coal is transshipped through OTEKO's Taman Bulk Cargo Terminal. “The terminal itself claims to be able to transship more than 5 million tons of coal per month,” he says. “Demand for transshipment through the Southern Landfill is high, but there is a limiting factor - the capacity of the railway network.” As soon as this factor is removed, Kommersant's interlocutor believes, coal transshipment through southern Russia can be significantly increased, "which is especially important for Russian exporters in the context of the continuing shortage of throughput capacity of the Eastern landfill."

Kommersant was told at NTK (the operator of the port and railway facilities of SUEK and Evrokhim) that they really see a steady trend to increase loading compared to last year's level, not only for coal, but also for other bulk cargo.

“At the same time, all cargoes in this direction reach the deadline, JSC Russian Railways is involved as much as possible in solving any current issues,” the company emphasizes. ) significantly increased unloading in the new year.” As of January 24, coal was unloaded at 528 wagons per day, which is 30% more than in January 2022, according to the NTK, noting that on January 15 a historical record was set for unloading at MMTP in the winter - 808 wagons. “At the same time, the port's capacity has not yet been 100% loaded,” the NTC emphasizes. “We hope that transshipment will grow during the year and, together with Russian Railways, we will be able to maintain the growing pace of shipment.”

Exporters report a decrease in freight costs in the North-West and an increase in export prices, says Airat Khalikov, executive director of Gazprombank's CEP. As long as prices in Asian markets remain above $150 per ton, shipments of thermal coal even through the ports of the North-West by large vessels will remain in the positive zone in terms of profitability, Sergey Grishunin from the NRA believes. According to the analyst, the coal turnover of the northwestern ports will also grow due to dealers who will mix Russian coal with products from other regions in order to comply with the letter of sanctions and subsequent delivery to Europe, where spot prices for Australian coal remain at an excessively high level. .

Evgeny Zainullin, Natalya Skorlygina

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