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Clearance delays for Indonesian coal at northeastern China ports: sources

Singapore — The Chinese authorities' efforts at controlling the volume of seaborne thermal coal imported into China has led to delays at certain ports in the northeast of China for Indonesian cargoes, market sources said Thursday.

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A market source told S&P Global Platts on the sidelines of an industry gathering in Shanghai that China's custom clearance process has lengthened for a few Indonesian shipments at one of China's northeastern ports.

He did not disclose the number of shipments impacted by this, but said the cargoes had arrived in February and were only able to complete the custom clearance process last week.

Another trader added that northeastern ports such as Dalian and Dandong are slowing the import process for seaborne cargoes, including that of Indonesian cargoes.

However, several other traders said that clearance delays for Indonesian cargoes were not widely experienced by other buyers.

"For us, the unloading just took about three days, and custom clearance about two weeks at the south China port," one trader said.

Currently, market sources have reported of delays at most Chinese ports for Australian thermal coal, lasting up to a lengthy two months before obtaining clearance at the customs.

With the curbs on Australian thermal coal, Chinese market sources said there will be more room for Indonesian imports into China, but they expect continued scrutiny from authorities as China seeks to keep imports in check.

"Though there're no official directives on monthly quotas, we're likely to see some form of delays for Indonesian cargoes too if ports see import volumes going up too much in a certain month compared with a year ago," a south China trader said.

--Hui Min Lee, hui.min.lee@spglobal.com

--Edited by Norazlina Jumaat, newsdesk@spglobal.com