Houston — Coal exports out of the terminals in the Hampton Roads region in Virginia were at a three-year-low 2.1 million st in May, down 7.8% from 2.28 million st in April and also 27.8% lower than 2.91 million st in the year-ago month, according to data from the Virginia Maritime Association released June 26.
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The latest month was also down 24.9% from the five-year average for May and was the lowest monthly total since 2.07 million st was exported in December 2016.
Exports decreased in May alongside global seaborne prices, which fell to its lowest level in nearly 18 years.
CIF ARA 6,000 kcal/kg coal averaged $38.51/mt in May, down from $42.30/mt in April and $57.11/mt averaged in the year-ago month. It was the lowest monthly average since $37.13/mt in June 2003.
Domestic prices also declined with exports in May. FOB Hampton Roads 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal averaged $62.50/mt in May, while US East Coast low-vol metallurgical coal averaged $107.37/mt, compared with $63.28/mt and $123.93/mt, respectively, in April, and $78.98/mt and $182.36/mt in the year-ago month. The low-vol HCC average was the lowest in a month since $107.10/mt in August 2016.
Cumulative exports from the terminals have reached 12.67 million st since January, down 15.6% from 15.02 million st a year earlier and 9.7% lower than the five-year average.
The Hampton Roads region saw 32 vessels set sail in May, up from 31 in April, but down from 37 in the year-ago month.
Lamberts Point exports climb on month
Of the three individual terminals in the region, only Lamberts Point saw a monthly increase, while Dominion Terminal Associates was the only one to see a year-on-year increase.
Exports out of Lamberts Point, in Norfolk, totaled 934,594 st in May, up from the three-year low 763,129 st in April, but down from 1.31 million st last year. It was the second-lowest monthly exports for the Norfolk Southern-owned and operated terminal for the corresponding month in the last 11 years, only higher than 744,136 st in May 2016.
For the year, exports through Lamberts Point totaled 5.53 million st, down from 6.22 million st a year ago.
Pier IX, which is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan and served by CSX, exported a three-year low 240,856 st in May, down from 295,873 st in April and 737,633 st in the year-ago month. The 240,856 st was the lowest total in a month of May in over 12 years and was the fifth time in the last six months to see a monthly decrease, including the last three months.
Since January 1, exports at Pier IX have reached 1.95 million st, down from 3.7 million st in the first eight months of 2018.
Dominion Terminal Associates, also in Newport News, saw exports fell to 926,335 st in May, from 1.22 million st in April, but up from 858,144 st in the year-ago month.
Coal exports at DTA -- which is owned by Arch Coal and Contura Energy and served by CSX -- totaled 5.2 million st since January 1, up from 5.1 million st in the same period a year ago.