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Turkish thermal coal users, awaiting higher sulfur cap, still look to Colombia

London β€” With Turkey expected to raise the sulfur cap on imported thermal coal but not having done so yet, consumers have been looking to continue restocking with Colombian material instead of waiting to be allowed to buy high sulfur, high-CV US coal, sources said Wednesday.

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The new cap being considered would allow utilities to import thermal coal with a sulfur content of up to 3%, with current level at 1%-2%, depending on specific utilities' allowances, according to a survey of market participants.

The ministry of energy and natural resources was not available for comment.

"We know it [higher sulfur cap] is coming, but when is a mystery," said a sell-side source of Colombian material.

The source said some utilities in Turkey initially held off from purchasing due to the likelihood of an increase in the sulfur cap but now the decision timeline was looking lengthy, some utilities were coming round to the idea of procuring Colombian coal again.

A Turkey-based source said he had no option but to buy Colombian coal as the lengthy decision-making process has led to consumers like him ruling out buying US coal for now.

In 2017, Turkey imported 32.98 million mt of thermal coal, up 8.4% year on year with Colombian coal accounting for 51.4% of that volume and US coal less than 1%.

S&P Global Platts assessed the weekly CIF Turkey 6,000 kcal/kg NAR 90-day price at $95/mt Friday.

--Piers De Wilde,
--Edited by Dan Lalor,