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US Hampton Roads coal exports jump to 19-month high in October

Highlights

DTA exports drop to 11-month low

January-October exports rise 10.1% on year

Coal exports out of the terminals in the Hampton Roads region in Virginia jumped to 2.75 million st, a 19-month high, in October, up 6.8% from September and 40.7% above the year-ago month, according to Virginia Maritime Association data released Nov. 16.

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October's exports were the most since 2.88 million st in March 2020 and 7.5% above the five-year average for the month.

Exports rose in October as seaborne thermal and metallurgical coal prices reached multiyear highs.

FOB Hampton Roads 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal rose to average $119.54/mt in October, while US East Coast low-vol metallurgical coal averaged $423.52/mt FOB, compared with $109.26/mt and $377.23/mt, respectively, in September, and $114.30/mt and $82.38/mt in the year-ago month. Both monthly averages were the highest since the assessment started in 2018 and 2012, respectively.

CIF ARA 6,000 kcal/kg coal averaged over a 14-year high $244.20/mt in October, up from $181.23/mt in September and $56.27/mt in the year-ago month.

Cumulative exports from the terminals from January through October totaled 24.45 million st, up 10.1% from a year earlier.

The Hampton Roads region saw 35 coal carriers set sail in October, up from 32 in September and 29 in the year-ago month. Total departures in 2021 through October were at 332, up from 297 in the same period a year earlier.

Lamberts Point exports climb to 19-month high

Of the three individual terminals in the region, only DTA saw a monthly or a year-on-year decrease.

Exports out of Lamberts Point, in Norfolk, totaled a 19-month high of 1.22 million st in October, up from 1.02 million st in September and 783,456 st in the year-ago month. It was the most since 1.28 million st was shipped out in March 2020.

From January through October, exports from Lamberts Point, which is owned and served by Norfolk Southern, were at 8.99 million st, down from 9.29 million st a year ago and the lowest since 7.79 million st in the corresponding 10 months of 2016.

Dominion Terminal Associates, in Newport News, saw exports fall to an 11-month low 888,897 st in October from 1.13 million st in September and 983,680 st in the year-ago month. It was the lowest since 836,186 st was shipped out of the terminal in November 2020.

Through the 10 months of the year, coal exports at DTA — owned by Arch Resources and Alpha Metallurgical Resources and served by CSX — totaled 10.69 million st, up from 9.8 million st a year ago. The 10.69 million st were the second-highest figure for the corresponding period in the last seven years, only below 13.31 million st in the corresponding 10 months of 2018.

Pier IX, which is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan and served by CSX, exported 635,120 st in October, up from 426,898 st in September and 184,498 st in the year-ago month. It was the third-highest level in the last 26 months, only behind 730,466 st in June and 648,710 st in March of this year.

Cumulative exports at Pier IX, also located in Newport News, were at 4.77 million st through October, up from 3.17 million st in the same period a year earlier.