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Markets heard for Illinois Basin export FOB New Orleans

Highlights

Offers heard at $55/mt, bids at $53/mt for IB export coal

ARA pricing off, but US coal remains in demand

Houston — Illinois Basin coal cargoes for export, FOB New Orleans, were heard offered this week around roughly $55/mt, with bids around $53/mt, according to a US-based source.

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Offers were also reportedly heard in the low $50s for material higher up the river.

A drop in European delivered prices has pushed down US Gulf Coast FOB pricing. Platts' CIF ARA assessment, for 6,000 kcal/kg NAR coal delivered into Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp, Friday was $71.55/mt, up 4.1% from the year-to-date low of $68.75/mt on Tuesday, but down 16.5% from the start of the year.

Traders have attributed the recent drop in CIF ARA pricing to oversupply in Europe, though US high sulfur material is said to remain in high demand for blending purposes.

In the Gulf, US sellers are also said to benefit from relatively short supply, with available tons said to be tight through Q2. A European trader also said the recent crash in Atlantic freight rates also helped US sellers, with fixtures from the US to Europe heard under $8/mt for Panamax vessels.

But US FOB prices may have come off too much for some sellers, said a second US-based source, noting that one of the bigger IB producers "won't sell at those levels."

According to a recent report from Norfolk, Virginia-based shipping agency T. Parker Host, US coal exports through New Orleans have totaled 18 million mt this year compared with 11.5 million mt last year.

Of the 2018 amount, 9.6 million mt went through SunCoke's Convent Marine Terminal compared with 6.6 million mt last year.

Midstreamers handled 7.8 million mt in 2018, compared with 4.8 million mt last year, while Kinder Morgan's International Marine Terminal handled 279,960 mt in 2018, compared with zero last year, and United Bulk Terminal's Davant terminal exported 252,831 mt in 2018, compared with 86,088 mt last year.

-- Andrew Moore, andrew.moore@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com