No Christmas cheer for bulkers stranded in China
According to Lloyd's List Intelligence vessel tracking data, at least 31 panamaxes and post-panamaxes and three capesizes loaded with coal at eastern Australian ports since July through to November are at anchorages outside terminals at Caofeidian, Huanghua, Tangshan and Bayuquan
A number of ships stuck in China with Australian coal are being diverted to other countries including Japan, India and Korea. Lloyd's list Intelligence data shows that Caroline Oldendorff and Royal Award are on their way to Japan
THE 92,214 dwt Mediterranean Shipping Co-owned bulk carrier Anastasia (IMO: 9625970) has been stuck off the coast of northern China since August with 18 Indian crew members.
However, this is not the only vessel that has been stranded at anchorages outside coal terminals in China.
According to Lloyd's List Intelligence vessel tracking data, at least 31 panamaxes and post-panamaxes and three capesizes loaded with coal at eastern Australian ports since July through to November are at anchorages outside terminals at Caofeidian, Huanghua, Tangshan and Bayuquan.
The numbers have reduced by four ships since Lloyd's List last reported on the situation, but this may be due to vessels being diverted to other countries including Japan, India and South Korea.
The 2010-built, 92,500 dwt Caroline Oldendorff (IMO: 9498705) is heading to Japan and is currently near Wakayama port, Lloyd's list Intelligence data shows.
The vessel left Australia on July 20 and reached Xingang port in China on August 8. Since then the vessel has been waiting outside various port anchorages to discharge.
Another vessel, Royal Award (IMO: 9381201) is heading to Maizuru port in Japan after waiting for five weeks in anchorages outside China.
The 2013-built Rui Ning 22 (IMO: 9619646), which reached China on September 9 from Australia, had called at an Indonesian port on December 15, probably for a crew change, and is now heading back to China.
China’s effective ban on Australian coal is unlikely to materially reduce overall Australian export volumes as long as Australia is able to re-direct its coal exports, according to Capitaleconomics.
Australia exports both thermal and coking coal in roughly equal quantities to China. However, due to their higher price, coking coal exports to China were worth $10.2bn in 2019-2020, whereas Australia shipped a smaller $4bn worth of thermal coal to China.
Meanwhile, coking coal exports from Canada are partly filling the shortfall of China’s imports of Australian product and has been positive in terms of tonne-mile demand for the dry bulk segment, the Australian government’s report on commodities, resources and energy quarterly said in its December edition.
Canada exported 34m tonnes of metallurgical coal in 2019 of which less than 10% was shipped to China, as reported by Australia, it noted.
Canada’s total exports to all countries in the September quarter declined by 37% year on year. In the December quarter, Canada is expected to fill some of the gaps caused by China’s informal import restrictions on Australian coal.
Exporters such as Canada’s Teck Resources are diverting sales to China where possible, as this earns Teck a significant premium compared with other markets in Asia
Still, China’s steel industry would likely face a particular challenge in obtaining the higher-grade hard coking coals in sufficient quantities, the government agency’s report said. Indications of coal trade realignment started to emerge in the December quarter, with additional Australian cargoes delivered to Indian ports and other Asian customers in response to uncertainty regarding Chinese policy.
For thermal coal, there are more alternative sources of supply, including Indonesia, which is geographically closer to China. However, this might reduce the number of days a vessel would be employed in the trade and hence would impact tonne-miles negatively.
For now, however, the stranded vessels still face a dilemma from Chinese policies which will require some time before any changes are introduced.