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Tohoku Electric Power still to agree Japanese financial year term contract coal price with major supplier

Singapore — Japan's traditional lead negotiator for the Japanese coal reference price, Tohoku Electric Power, confirmed Friday that it has not agreed a benchmark price with Glencore for shipments of its Newcastle 6,300 kcal/kg GAR thermal coal over the Japanese financial year starting April 1, 2018.

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In an emailed response Friday to S&P Global Platts questions asking whether the power utility had settled a JFY April-year term contract price with Australian coal producer Glencore, Tohoku Electric said: "No."

"We have terminated and have no intention to resume the talks with the major supplier for the April 2018 JFY contract," Tohoku Electric added.

Tohoku Electric said in a separate response received June 25 that it had ended its price negotiations for April 2018-March 2019 Japanese financial year term contracts after being unable to reach an agreement with its major supplier Glencore.

Earlier in April, Tohoku Electric confirmed it had agreed some term contract business for the April 2018-March 2019 JFY with some smaller Australian thermal coal shippers.

Reported prices for these deals were about $95/mt FOB Newcastle, basis 6,300 kcal/kg GAR, but several market sources told Platts that they did not consider the volumes large enough to constitute a Japanese reference price benchmark.

Meanwhile, there was unconfirmed market speculation Friday that some of Japan's smaller power utilities may have agreed an April term contract price with Glencore at $110/mt FOB Newcastle, basis 6,300 kcal/kg GAR, equivalent to 6,000 kcal/kg NAR.

Three separate sources told Platts that the deal may possibly involve Japanese power companies Chugoku or Shikoku, or likely a combination of the two buyers and another JPU Kansai, though this could not be immediately confirmed with the companies.

Other market sources were skeptical of the reports because the price of $110/mt FOB Newcastle 6,300 kcal/kg GAR is significantly below current traded levels for equivalent Newcastle 6,000 kcal/kg NAR thermal coal on globalCOAL at about $122.50/mt FOB for August shipments.

--Michael Cooper, michael.cooper@spglobal.com

--Edited by James Leech, james.leech@spglobal.com