Coal import in Emerging Asia a growth market

Norway-based Torvald Klaveness, a service provider to the global drybulk industry, has noted in a report that thermal coal imports into Emerging Asia is growing at a rapid pace, albeit from a low starter base.

Total coal imports into Emerging Asia were 67Mt in 2015, up 11% from 2014. In the first seven months of this year the growth in coal imports has accelerated further with imports of 48Mt representing a 33% year on year increase.

Vietnam has turned from being a large exporter to a net importer, with imports  in the first seven months of 2016 more than three times higher year on year at 7.6Mt.

Prior to 2010 Vietnam only had 2,300MW of installed capacity, but since then the fleet has more than quintupled to 13,000MW. Additional capacity of 14,500MW is currently under construction and another 2,500MW has planning permission.

Imports into the Philippines for the first seven months of 2016 were 10.4Mt, more than double the amount in the same period in 2015. The Philippines thermal coal fleet has increased by about 50% in the past five years and is expected to grow by another 50% in the next few years; 3,780MW is under construction and another 750MW is permitted. Imports into Pakistan in January-July 2016 were 3.4Mt, up 16% year on year. The current thermal coal fleet in Pakistan is just 150MW. Current coal imports mostly consist of coking coal for the steel industry and non-coking coal for the cement industry. However, 2,880MW of thermal coal capacity is under construction  and another 5,400MW has development permission. About half the growth underway and with permission is on the coast. The plants currently under construction are expected to be on-stream by 2018.

Malaysian imports for the first seven months of 3016 were 12.2Mt, up 12% from the same period last year. The thermal coal fleet in Malaysia was 7,900MW prior to 2010. Between 2010 and 2014 no new thermal coal plants were built, but in 2015 1,100 MW of new capacity was finished and another 1,000MW has come on stream so far this year. A further 1,600MW is under construction.

Thailand has a thermal coal fleet of 5,450MW, although the latest coal fleet expansion dates back to 2012. Imports have therefore been fairly stable in the last couple of years. Imports in the first 7 months of 2016 were 12.4Mt, down by 4% year on year. The only plant currently under construction is a 600MW replacement plant.

Bangladesh only has 250MW of installed capacity but has more than 8,000MW in pre-permit development. While imports may therefore increase down the road, none of the permitted plans are likely to come on stream in the next three to five years. Bangladesh imported 1.6Mt in the first 7 months of 2016, down 2 1% year on year.

Collectively the countries within the Emerging Asia group have 23,400MW of new thermal coal fired capacity under construction, 8,700MW of permitted projects and another 73,000MW of projects under various pre-permit/planning stages. Coking coal imports will also grow on the back of increasing industrial production.

Torvald Klaveness said that therefore “it is safe to state that the Emerging Asia is a certain growth market for coal imports in the next three to five years horizon”.