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US Hampton Roads coal exports drop to near four-year low in June

Highlights

June exports lowest since September 2016

All three terminals decline on month

Houston — Coal exports out of the terminals in the Hampton Roads region in Virginia were at a three-year low at 1.55 million st in June, down 26.3% from 2.1 million st in May and 44.1% lower than 2.77 million st in the year-ago month, according to data from the Virginia Maritime Association released July 16.

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The latest month was the lowest total since 1.51 million st was exported in September 2016, while it was also the lowest for the corresponding month in over 12 years.

Exports decreased in June despite global seaborne prices rising from the previous month.

CIF ARA 6,000 kcal/kg coal averaged $45.33/mt in June, up from the 17-year low $38.51/mt in May, but down from $48.36/mt averaged in the year-ago month.

Domestic thermal coal prices also rose in June, while metallurgical coal prices declined. FOB Hampton Roads 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal averaged $63.90/mt in June, while US East Coast low-vol metallurgical coal averaged $105.39/mt, compared with $62.50/mt and $107.37/mt, respectively, in May, and $72.75/mt and $176.08/mt in the year-ago month. The low-vol HCC average was the lowest in a month since $93.10/mt in July 2016.

Cumulative exports from the terminals have reached 14.22 million st since January, down 20.1% from 17.79 million st a year earlier and the lowest since 10.87 million st during the same period in 2016.

The Hampton Roads region saw 23 vessels set sail in June, down from 32 in May and 43 in the year-ago month.

All three terminals decline on month

For the first time since February 2019, all three individual terminals in the region saw monthly decreases.

Exports out of Lamberts Point, in Norfolk, totaled a three-year low of 703,704 st in June, down from 934,594 st in May and 1.04 million st last year. It was the lowest monthly exports for the Norfolk Southern-owned and operated terminal since 694,022 st in September 2016.

For the first six months of the year, exports through Lamberts Point totaled 6.23 million st, down from 7.26 million st a year ago.

Pier IX, which is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan and served by CSX, exported a four-year low 74.872 st in June, down from 240,856 st in May and 748,249 st in the year-ago month. The 74,872 st was the lowest total in a month since 36,983 st in October 2015 and was the sixth time in the last seven months to see a monthly decrease, including the last four months.

Since January 1, exports at Pier IX have reached 2.02 million st, down from 4.44 million st in the first six months of 2019.

Dominion Terminal Associates, also in Newport News, saw exports falling to a three-year low of 770,589 st in June, from 926,335 st in May and 983,614 st in the year-ago month. It was the lowest since 664,300 st was shipped out in February 2017.

Coal exports at DTA - which is owned by Arch Coal and Contura Energy and served by CSX - totaled 5.97 million st since January 1, down from 6.09 million st in the same period a year ago.