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Hampton Roads coal export channel to reopen

London — The main Virginia Capes shipping channel, through which a large portion of US coking coal and thermal coal exports passes, will reopen Saturday after a closure added to delays in meeting export demand in the Atlantic Basin and Asia.

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The channel will reopen for commercial traffic, without restrictions at 7 am EDT (1100 GMT) on Saturday, the Port of Virginia said Friday. The channel has been closed since Wednesday due to the approach of Hurricane Florence, which made landfall earlier Friday in North Carolina.

Higher global demand in spot markets for coking coal, along with US supply disruption and lengthy vessel queues led US coking coal prices higher this week.

Hurricane Florence closing the shipping channel and the potential for wind and rain affecting rail transportation and dumping was expected to create more disruption and delays to exports out of the Hampton Roads area's three terminals.

Rainfall disruption for exports out of Baltimore was also a concern due to the hurricane's expected onshore trajectory at the start of the week.

S&P Global Platts' assessment of US East Coast low-vol hard coking coal rose to $193/mt FOB, based on 58% CSR and 19% volatile matter material, up $16/mt compared with September 7.

Platts' US high-vol A index rose to $202/mt FOB USEC, based on 32% volatile matter, 1.1% reflectance straight coal, with low ash and sulfur and CSR typically in the low 60s.

The Platts US high-vol B assessment climbed this week to $170/mt FOB USEC, based on 34% VM unblended product.

The port said a Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for southeastern Virginia, including the port area.

Rain and tropical storm force winds are possible for the remainder of Friday, with conditions improving gradually Friday evening and into Saturday.

--Hector Forster, hector.forster@spglobal.com

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, keiron.greenhalgh@spglobal.com