European coal price reaches one-month high as Russia supply curbs bite

Coal power plant in Datteln, Germany, at the Dortmund-Ems-Kanal. (Image by Arnold Paul, Wikimedia Commons.).

Northwest European coal futures rose to the highest in more than a month as curbs on imports from Russia tighten the market. 

The European Union, UK and Japan plan to phase out imports of the fuel to try to cut off a source of revenue for Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine. But that leaves utilities needing to source the fuel from other countries in a market that was already short on supply, likely resulting in higher energy prices for consumers already facing the specter of surging inflation.

“The rise in coal prices on the long-term contracts will result in higher power prices also long term in the countries where coal is part of the power mix, which of course is not great for European consumers,” said Fabian Ronningen, an analyst at Rystad Energy AS. 

Russia is the third-largest exporter of thermal coal globally. The EU, UK, Japan and South Korea — where companies are also moving to cut imports from the country — took about 55% of those deliveries in 2020, according to BloombergNEF. 

The benchmark European contract for next-year delivery rose 1.7% to $232 a ton, the highest since March 8 on ICE Futures Europe.

coal price

It’s not just in Europe where the curbs on coal will have an impact. Wealthy nations looking to replace Russian coal could price out buyers from developing countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines that rely on imports of the fuel, according to BNEF.

(By William Mathis)

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