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Indonesian thermal coal prices hold steady

Source: Wikimedia Commons, April 25, 2019

Indonesian thermal coal prices held relatively steady today, with most market participants opting for the sidelines waiting for further details of recent utility tenders to emerge.

Chinese state-controlled power utility Huaneng has issued a large tender to buy 667,000t of imported coal for delivery to its coastal power plants between June and early July.

The utility, which has started restocking for the summer season, is seeking coal in a NAR 3,000-5,500 kcal/kg range, without specifying the origins of most of the cargoes. But most of the cargoes are likely to be from Indonesia. The tender closes tomorrow at 10:00 Beijing time (02:00 GMT).

Philippine conglomerate San Miguel has also issued a tender seeking two Panamax cargoes of imported thermal coal for its power plants in the Philippines, according to market sources. The coal should have a calorific value (CV) of GAR 4,200-4,600 kcal/kg.

Bids and offers for spot GAR 4,200 kcal/kg cargoes were relatively stable compared with yesterday, with May-loading geared Supramax cargoes bid at $38/t and offered at around $38.75/t. A May-loading Supramax cargo of this coal was sold to China today at $38.50/t.

Trade was sluggish in the ICI 4 derivatives market, after a total of 65,000t of mostly May contracts traded yesterday in a $39.10-39.25/t range and 25,000t of June contracts changed hands in a $39.05-39.25/t range.

May ICI 4 derivatives contracts were bid today at $39.15/t and offered at $40/t. June contracts were bid at $39/t, although there were no corresponding June offers during Asia-Pacific business hours.

Enquiries from buyers began to emerge in the GAR 5,000 kcal/kg market in the low-$50s/t for May-loading gearless Panamax cargoes, with offers around $54.25-54.50/t. Details of firm transactions involving this type of coal have been scarce in recent weeks, with Chinese buyers favouring lower-CV Indonesian grades, while weak Indian demand for this type of coal has been pressuring prices for a number of weeks.

In the Australian thermal coal market, a producer sold a May-loading Capesize cargo of NAR 5,500 kcal/kg coal for $61/t fob Newcastle. The selling price was somewhat firmer compared with last week when the NAR 5,500 kcal/kg coal price was assessed at $59.77/t fob Newcastle.

The typical markets for the high-ash coal are quiet, as Chinese buyers are focused on lower-CV coal from Indonesia and other origins, and Indian buyers are largely staying out of the market.

Demand from South Korea is somewhat stronger. South Korean utilities Korea South-East Power and GS Donghae Electric Power issued term and spot tenders for a combined 1.49mn t of mid-CV thermal coal yesterday and today. At least some of this volume could potentially be supplied by Australian producers.

A tender from another Korean buyer for Capesize cargoes of minimum NAR 5,600 kcal/kg coal with 0.6pc sulphur to be delivered in July and the fourth quarter of this year was heard to have garnered fob basis bids ranging from $58/t by a Colombian producer, to the mid-$70s by Australian producers.

At least one of the Australian producers was understood to have offered below $71/t for NAR 5,700 kcal/kg coal with 0.5pc sulphur. In China's futures market, the May contract on the ZCE closed at 611.80 yuan/t today, up by Yn2.20/t from yesterday.


News Source: ARGUS