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China's thermal coal market sees limited support from pre-winter stocking

News Source:http://www.jinchemical.com/ ; SendDate:2014-9-23 15:59:39 
China's domestic thermal coal market may not get much support from pre-winter stocking in the seasonally strong fourth quarter, this year, due to high stocks at power utilities, which are running on relatively low capacity amid rich hydropower and a slowing economy, industry sources said Thursday.

Coal stocks at key power utilities across the country rose to a seven-month high of 82.06 million mt on September 10, up 7% from a month earlier, according to data released by Zhongneng Power Industry Fuel Co., a unit of State Grid Corporation of China.

The stockpile level is enough to last for 26 days of consumption, 5 days more than the prior month.

In comparison, key utilities only had 67.9 million mt of coal stocks in the same period last year, enough to last for 18 days of coal burn.

Market sources said thermal coal-fired plants were running below 60% of their capacities at major coastal cities -- with some plants in Guangdong and Zhejiang running at around 55%, Shanghai about 50%, and Jiangsu, Fujian and Shandong at 60%.

Capacity utilization at thermal coal power plants in hydro-rich provinces, like Guangxi and Hunan, is even lower at about 40% of capacity, local utility sources said.

Utilities have not been actively loading coal from northern China ports, even though routine maintenance to the coal-dedicated Daqin rail line is scheduled to start from October 8, sources said.

This maintenance will result in higher stocks at Qinhuangdao, sources added.

Coal stocks at Qinhuangdao hit 6.22 million mt on Wednesday, jumping 15% from the end of August, and edging up 2.88% year on year.

Demand has been weak in the production areas of northern China at a time when end-users typically begin to restock coal for the approaching northern hemisphere winter, sources said.

Although, given some buying interest for the winter-restocking, prices have edged up, but further gains have been capped by the largely bearish sentiment for the near term.

Prices in Inner Mongolia have picked up by Yuan 5-10/mt for 5,000 kcal/kg NAR coal since mid-August and about Yuan 10/mt ($1.63) in northern Shaanxi earlier this month, sources said.

An official at a Hebei-based coal mining company expects the local market to eventually receive a boost from pre-winter restocking due to expected significant heating demand in the province.

Fenwei Energy is a leading provider of coal market information in China.
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