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US coal carrier departures reach eight-week high

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Weekly US coal ship departures totaled 42 in the week ended April 18, up eight from the previous week, data from cFlow, Platts trade-flow software, showed.

Departures dropped to an eight-week high, and from the year-ago week they were up 20.

The departing laden and part-laden ships carried over 2.3 million dwt, up 28.4% from the week before.

US Gulf Coast departures totaled 20, up four from the previous week and at an eight-week high. Year on year, gulf departures were up 11.

The departing coal carriers held 1.1 million dwt, up 32.8% from the previous week.

From the gulf, nine coal carriers departed towards Central America, three to the North Atlantic, and one each to the ARA, the Arabian Sea and Gulfs, Canada, the Mediterranean, North Africa, North Asia, the Baltic Sea and the UK & Continent.

Departures off the Atlantic Coast jumped by four from the week before, with 12 ships leaving in the most recent week. Year-ago departures totaled seven in the corresponding week.

The ships carried 782,108 dwt, up 33.4% week on week.

Three ships departed to ports in the North Atlantic, two each went to the UK & Continent, the Baltic Sea, and Central America. One each left to Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean and the ARA.

Ten coal carriers left off the West Coast for the second consecutive week and continuing a 21-week high. Year on year, departures were up four.

In the most recent week the departing ships carried 467,755 dwt up 12.4% from the week before.

Four carriers left to ports within North Asia, three to Central America, two to Brazil and one to Southeast Asia.California is showing significant power price drops as a result of oversupply, congestion and decreasing demand, with renewable curtailments increasing.

Tyler Godwin, S&P Global Platts associate editor for coal and power, and Morris Greenberg, senior manager for North American power analytics, join Amy Gasca, managing editor for North American power, to discuss the trends shaping the market.

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“Now despite the emergence of COVID-19, there were a number of positives in the first quarter,” Lindsay said on the call. “Steelmaking coal had a very strong finish to the quarter with sales exceeding our quarterly guidance.”

Teck had sales of 5.7 million mt, down 8.1% year on year. Despite the drop, sales exceeded Teck’s Q1 guidance of 4.8 million mt-5.2 million mt.

The average price during the quarter was $131/st, down from $186/st in the year-ago quarter.

Production totaled 4.9 million mt of coke, down 19.7% from the year-ago period.

According to the filing, Teck’s logistics chain performance were impacted in January and February by extreme weather events and rail blockades. Those issues, combined with record-high site inventory levels led to reduced coal production.

Teck also announced it finished its Elkview plant expansion in mid-April.

This is a very important milestone because it increases annual capacity at Elkview from 7 million mt to 9 million mt, Lindsay said. “And this is important because it will enable us to replace higher cost production from Cardinal River, which produced 1.4 million mt in 2019, with much lower cost production from Elkview when Cardinal River closes later this year.”

The company had a net loss of C$312 million in the first quarter, compared with a net profit of C$630 million in Q1 2019.

Teck revenue totaled about C$2.4 billion in the first quarter, down 23.5% year on year. Revenue from its steelmaking coal segment was over C$1 billion, down 34.1% from the year-ago period.

Teck produced 4.9 million mt of coke, down 19.7% from the year-ago quarter.

Teck previously suspended its 2020 guidance following the coronavirus pandemic, and said it will offer a new guidance once the full impact of the pandemic is realized.

Currently, its operating crews have increased to 75% of regular levels from 50% at the start of April.

Additionally, Lindsay said, “we are currently at stable levels of production across all operations and subject to market demand. We are planning to increase production further in Q4 of 2020 when the Neptune extended outage and our annual major plant outages are scheduled to be completed.”

Teck also added it has started receiving notifications from customer that they may delay shipments due to reduced demand in the current economic environment.

Regarding sales, Lindsay added that second quarter volumes “could decrease significantly” from the first quarter, driven by impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The first quarter, on the other hand, had no material impact on sales or shipments due to the pandemic.

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/coal/042120-teck-resources-q1-coal-sales-strong-in-q1-sees-big-decline-in-q2-ceo
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