Polish exporter to fill domestic coal hole with U.S. imports
A domestic coal shortage has forced Poland's largest coal exporter Weglokoks to order a shipment from the United States so that it can honour contracts with its overseas buyers.
Weglokoks said on Wednesday that it plans to resell the imported U.S. coal abroad, mostly to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany and Austria, but would also consider sales to customers in Poland in the future.
That would be likely to cause friction with Poland's energy ministry, which expects the country's utilities to buy and burn coal from domestic mines.
"We want the energy security in Poland to be guaranteed by Polish coal production," Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski told Reuters on Wednesday following the news from Weglokoks.
Poland's biggest coal mining firm PGG, which was saved from bankruptcy last year, is struggling to meet demand from its major clients – mostly state-run listed utilities, after cost-cutting led to lower investment.
Weglokoks, which is one of PGG shareholders as well as one of its clients, sees its coal exports at around 2.5 million tonnes this year down from 4 million tonnes in 2016.
"The fall results from a bigger demand on the domestic market, which has led to a limited access to coal for export," Weglokoks spokesman said in an e-mail.
The first test shipment from the U.S. of 75,000 tonnes of high-energy coal is expected to arrive in Poland in mid October, Weglokoks said, adding that it does not rule out more cargoes, also from Kazakhstan and Colombia.
Poland's Rzeczpospolita newspaper, which was first to report Weglokoks plans to import U.S. coal, said that the exporter is in advanced talks with Polish utilities, including the biggest power producer PGE on potential coal sales.
The Weglokoks spokesman declined to comment on this.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Pawel Sobczak; editing by Alexander Smith)