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Russia-China seaborne coal imports surge 19% as Europe bans redirect trades

Increase comes against backdrop of contraction in China’s coal imports, data from DBX Commodities show

Indian imports of Russian coal total 12.7m tonnes in the first nine months of the year, up from 5.9m tonnes in the same period last year

CHINA has increased imports of Russian coal by 19% this year, even as seaborne shipments to the world’s biggest energy commodities consumer contracted 16%, data shows.

Just over a fifth of China’s 172m tonnes of seaborne coal imports came from Russia in the first nine months of the year, according to analysis from London-based analytics provider DBX Commodities.

September shipments to China from Russia were 28% higher than the same period last year, and have gained every month since April, when the European Union announced bans on coal imports would begin from mid-August.

That increase is seen even as Chinese coal imports slump as the country’s zero-Covid policies and accompanying lockdowns stymy growth for the world’s second-largest economy.

Overall monthly coal imports from China have averaged 19.9m tonnes this year, compared with the monthly average of 23.2m tonnes in 2021.

As well as recalibrating global oil and gas flows, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have also changed seaborne coal trades.

As a result of European bans, increased Russian coal shipments are redirected not only to China but India, South Korea and Malaysia.

Indian imports of Russian coal also gained sharply since April, and now total 12.7m tonnes for the first nine months of the year, up from 5.9m tonnes from the year-earlier period, according to DBX Commodities.

China and India have also increased crude imports from Russia, and in September surpassed the EU-27 as the federation’s biggest oil buyers for the first time.

Seaborne Russian coal exports for the January-through-September period were 3% higher than the same period a year ago, the analyst said, at 127m tonnes.

Japan and Taiwan are the major Asian buyers to have drastically curbed Russian imports this year, alongside the EU sanctions.

Vessel tracking showed that Russian shipments of coal to China were evenly split between capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, according to shipbroker SSY.

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