Prices for Russian thermal coal fell by 9-10pc in the first half of November, reaching their lowest levels since May.
And they could continue falling at least until the end of November or even until end of the year. Prices for Russian coal with a calorific value of NAR 6,000 kcal/kg in the European market decreased to $83.33/t on a fob Baltic ports basis, while prices in Asia-Pacific fell to $96.20/t fob Vostochny.
Russian coal prices are falling in line with European values amid weaker demand and high stocks in major European ports. Coal stocks in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp reached a historical high of 6.9mn t in mid-November, as consumers could not move product to their power plants using barges on the Rhine — a popular method for transporting coal from ports to some power plants on the continent — because of extremely low water levels on German waterways.
"Prices are expected to keep falling in the short term as European buyers are sitting on high stocks and do not have appetite to make fresh purchases in the near future, especially on a falling market," a European market participant said. "Meanwhile, suppliers also do not rush to move their product, being reluctant to decrease their offers and instead postpone sales until coal transportation on the continent improves."
Coal demand from German utilities could be muted in the next few months as the latest forecasts show that temperatures will be above average in December.
Prices in Asia-Pacific have fallen as Chinese authorities consider extending quotas for coal imports until February 2019.
And Russian producers face tough competition from Indonesian suppliers, which are often able to make much more attractive offers to Asian consumers. Russian exporters have to sell coal with a sizable discount to spot values from other origins to win coal tenders in South Korea or Vietnam.