Thailand’s imports of Russian coal almost doubled in January-November from a year earlier, even as Thailand’s overall imports fell as a result of slower economic growth.
Thailand imported 946,000t of Russian coal in January-November, up from about 494,000t in the same period a year earlier, Thai customs data show.
Russia became Thailand’s third-largest coal supplier last year, as prices for Russian coal became more competitive. The share of Russian coal in Thailand’s imported supply rose by 2.5 percentage points from a year earlier to 4.5pc in January-November.
Thai consumers prefer to buy Russian coal fines and lower calorific-value (CV) brown coal, as this supply can partly replace declining domestic production of lignite. Russia provides Thailand with mainly brown coal with a CV of less than 5,000 kcal/kg and bituminous thermal coal with a CV of about 5,500 kcal/kg.
Large volumes of Russian material were shipped to Thailand by Sakhalin-based mining firms and Suek. Thailand also received small volumes of Russian anthracite from Siberian Anthracite last year.
Coal in Russia the best prices
Thailand’s total thermal coal receipts in January-November fell by 2.7mn t from a year earlier to 21mn t, as weaker economic growth weighed on the country’s demand for seaborne thermal coal.
Indonesia — the main supplier of sub-bituminous thermal coal to Thailand — registered a 3.7mn t decrease in loadings on the year to 14.9mn t in the first 11 months of 2019. But imports from Australia — Thailand’s second-largest supplier — were up by 0.5mn t over the same period to 4mn t, as Australian coal became cheaper.
Thailand’s coal demand in January-November fell by 2.6mn t from a year earlier to 33.7mn t. This was driven mainly by a drop in industrial consumption, while increased competition from gas and renewables reduced the share of coal in the country’s power generation mix.