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Houston — US coal exports totaled 8.07 million mt in September, up 3.7% compared with August's shipments and up 108.1% from the year-ago month, US Census Bureau data showed Friday.

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It was also the highest monthly total since March 2014.

In the first three quarters of 2017, US coal exports totaled 62.4 million mt, up 68% compared with the same period last year, and would total 83.2 million mt on an annualized basis, which would mark a 52% increase from the 2016 total of 54.7 million mt.

The surge is being driven by higher demand for both metallurgical and thermal coal, as seaborne prices continue to support export opportunities for US producers.



Through Friday, Premium low-vol met coal FOB Australia has averaged $182.30/mt in 2017, compared with $116.90/mt in the year-ago period, while the Platts CIF ARA assessment for thermal coal delivered into Northern Europe (basis 6,000 kcal/kg NAR) has averaged $82.93/mt, compared with $54.62/mt in the same period last year.

September met coal exports totaled 4.9 million mt, up 4.7% compared with August and up 92.2% from the year-ago month, the Census Bureau data show, and the highest monthly total since October 2014.

Through the first nine months of 2017, met coal exports totaled 36.7 million mt, up 38.2% from the same period in 2016, and would total 48.9 million mt on an annualized basis.

The top export destinations for US met coal in September were Japan at 536,578 mt, compared with 160,001 mt in the year-ago month; Brazil at 514,494 mt, compared with 434,639 mt last year; and South Korea at 423,617 mt, compared with 178,386 mt a year earlier.

Through September, the largest market for US met coal in 2017 was Brazil at 4.7 million mt, compared with 4.5 million mt in the year-ago period; Japan at 3.54 million mt, compared with 2.2 million mt last year; and South Korea at 2.59 million mt, compared with 2.05 million mt last year.

Met coal exports to China totaled 300,852 mt in September, and year-to-date exports total 2.3 million mt.

Bituminous coal exports in September totaled 2.4 million mt, up 4.6% from August and up 120.8% from the year-ago period.

Through the first nine months of 2017, US bituminous coal exports totaled 19.58 million mt, up 132.6% from the year-ago period, and would total 26.1 million mt on an annualized basis.

The top export destinations for US bituminous coal in September were India at 588,877 mt, compared with 126,887 mt last year; the Netherlands at 419,443 mt, compared with 557,521 mt last year; and Germany at 300,527 mt, compared with 153,723 mt last year.

The largest market for US bituminous coal in the first nine months of the year was the Netherlands at 4.4 million mt, compared with 3.48 million mt in the year-ago period; India at 3.86 million mt, compared with 1.5 million mt last year; and Japan at 1.59 million mt, compared with 166,286 mt last year.

US subbituminous coal exports totaled 585,237 mt in September, down 8.2% from August but up 400% from the year-ago month.

For the first three quarters of the year, subbituminous coal exports totaled 5.56 million mt, up 309% from the year-ago period, and would total 7.4 million mt on an annualized basis.

The top importer of US subbituminous coal in September was South Korea at 227,792 mt compared with zero last year; Taiwan at 193,749 mt, compared with zero last year; and Mexico at 163,356 mt, compared with 116,741 mt last year.

Through September, 2017's largest importer of US subbituminous coal was South Korea at 2.7 million mt, compared with 49,507 mt last year; Mexico at 1.6 million mt, compared with 1.27 million mt; and Morocco at 432,616 mt, compared with zero last year.

--Andrew Moore, andrew.moore@spglobal.com
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, keiron.greenhalgh@spglobal.com