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US Hampton Roads coal exports at near four-year high

Coal exports from terminals in Virginia's Hampton Roads region were at a near four-year high 3.83 million st in March, up 8% from 3.55 million st in February and 15.1% higher than the year-ago month, Virginia Maritime Association data showed Tuesday.

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It was the highest monthly total since 3.99 million st was exported in April 2014.

Exports continue to rise as global seaborne prices show strength, which creates more opportunities for US coal as buyers seek less-expensive alternatives.

Since January 1, low-vol metallurgical coal FOB US East Coast has averaged $195.14/mt, including $195.31/mt averaged in March. In the same period a year ago, it averaged $169.81/mt and $160.65/mt in March 2017.



Premium low-vol met coal FOB Australia has averaged $228.47/mt this year, up 35.8% from $168.22/mt during the first three months of 2017.

Cumulative exports from the terminals have reached 10.29 million st since January 1, up 18% year on year.

At the three individual terminals in Hampton Roads, Lambert's Point, also known as Pier 6, exported a four-year high 1.75 million st, up 13.4% from February and up 15% from last year. It was the highest since 1.755 million st was shipped out in March 2014.

For the year, coal exports through the terminal -- which is owned and operated by Norfolk Southern -- totaled 4.5 million st, up 17.4% from 3.83 million st exported in the same period a year ago.

Pier IX, based in Newport News, Virginia, exported a 10-month high 817,752 st in March, up 15% from the prior month and up 14.1% from March 2017.

Since January 1, coal exports at the terminal, which is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan and served by CSX, have reached 2.1 million st, down 12.3% from 2.4 million st exported in the first three months of 2017.

Dominion Terminal Associates, based in Newport News, exported 1.26 million st in March, down 2.4% from 1.29 million st in February but up 16.1% from 1.09 million st in the year-ago month. For the year, exports at the terminal -- which is owned by Arch Coal and Contura Energy and served by CSX -- totaled 3.67 million st, up 48.8% from 2.47 million st in the same period a year ago.

--Tyler Godwin, tyler.godwin@spglobal.com

--Edited by Derek Sands, derek.sands@spglobal.com