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Rise in Newcastle coal terminals' ship queues should be short-lived: HVCCC

Perth — The logistics coordinator for the Hunter Valley coalfield's transport corridor in eastern Australia said on its website Tuesday that 28 ships were listed to load coal cargoes this week at Port Waratah's loading facilities.

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The number represented an increase on the 24 ships listed for arrival at the two Port Waratah Coal Services' terminals on Sunday.

The number of ships listed for arrival at the PWCS coal terminals at Newcastle port has risen steadily from a recent low-point of 13 vessels in the week ended January 5, according to Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator operational data.

The upward trend in scheduled vessel arrivals for Port Waratah's coal terminals could be short-lived, however, and the number could start to retrace in the coming weeks, according to HVCCC forecasts.


"Based on terminal demand, the queue at Port Waratah Coal Services [terminals] is estimated to be 17 ships at the end of January and less than 10 ships at the end of February," HVCCC said in its latest operational report released on Sunday.

Coal stocks at the two PWCS terminals at Newcastle port increased to 1.76 million mt on Monday from 1.23 million mt a week ago, said HVCCC.

The level of coal stocks at the port could be taken as a good indicator of shipping demand, say traders.

PWCS EXPORTS SLOW

Shipments from the PWCS coal export terminals slowed dramatically last week to 1.99 million mt, and were nearly 200,000 mt below the coordinator's weekly target.

This was after the terminals had loaded 2.5 million mt of cargo on to arriving ships in the preceding week ended January 11, according to HVCCC data.

Railings of coal cargo into Newcastle port's three coal terminals have remained strong for the past two weeks at 3.3 million mt/week, said the coal chain coordinator in reports for the period.

"January's month-to-date throughput is currently 8.4 million mt [170.8 million mt on an annualized basis], which is 615,000 mt below the declared inbound target, with total losses of 6.4%," said the latest report from HVCCC.

Expected vessel arrivals for Newcastle port as a whole, for both the Port Waratah and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group terminals, had jumped from 37 ships at the end of December to 46 ships last week, said the Port of Newcastle in separate operational reports.

The Port of Newcastle has yet to issue an operational update for this week.

At Gladstone port in Queensland, another significant Australian port for coal exports, there were 12 ships waiting offshore for berthing slots at the port's coal terminals, said Gladstone Ports Corp. in an update on its website Tuesday.

Another two ships, the Rosemary and Vishva Vikas, were berthed at Gladstone's RG Tanna coal terminal and waiting to take on coal cargoes of 165,000 mt and 55,000 mt, respectively, though none was available at the time of the update (7.20 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, 0920 GMT), according to the port's update.

--Mike Cooper, michael.cooper@platts.com
--Edited by Maurice Geller, maurice.geller@platts.com