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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Indonesia Talks on Coal Exports Put Off as Scores of Ships in Limbo

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

January 5, 2022

Illustration only - Credit:  Ibenk.88/AdobeStock

Illustration only - Credit: Ibenk.88/AdobeStock

Indonesian authorities on Wednesday postponed a meeting with coal miners to discuss a ban on coal exports, as scores of ships moored off the coast due to load remained in limbo.

The world's top exporter of thermal coal and China's largest overseas supplier on Saturday announced a ban on exports in January to avoid outages at its own generators.

The ban sent thermal coal futures in China surging reflecting concerns it could threaten energy security in some of the world's biggest economies.

China's benchmark thermal coal futures rose by as much as 7.8% on Tuesday in the first day of trading since the policy was announced, before paring gains on Wednesday. The futures were last traded at 702 yuan a tonne, down 1.3%.

ICE Newcastle monthly coal futures also jumped sharply when trading resumed on January 4, registering their largest one-day gain since November 3 and topping $174 a tonne for the first time since October.

Coal miners had been scheduled to meet Indonesian trade minister Muhammad Lutfi on Wednesday morning, but talks did not take place, officials at the Indonesian Coal Miners Association (ICMA) said. They said no new meeting time had been agreed. Ministry officials declined to comment.

Separately, State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) Minister Erick Thohir said his ministry, along with the energy ministry, planned to hold talks with state power company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to review their coal supplies.

"We will clearly map out the condition in each coal power plant, so later on we won't find any more problems," Erick said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The meeting with PLN might take place on Wednesday evening followed by talks between the energy ministry and miners, an official at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said.

BUILD UP

During the impasse over exports, around 100 vessels either loading or waiting to load a total of around 5.9 million tonnes of coal have amassed near Indonesia's main coal ports off Kalimantan, Refinitiv data shows. This includes around 25 vessels waiting off the port of Samarinda and 27 off Taboneo.

"We have not seen any shipments ..loaded after 31st December, said a trader in India's Western Gujarat state.

PLN on Tuesday said it had secured an extra 7.5 million tonnes of coal, but aimed to continue increasing stockpiles so it had at least enough supplies to last 20 days. Indonesia's Tangguh and Bontang gas plants are committed to selling 58 cargoes of liquefied natural gas to PLN in 2022, regulator SKK MIgas said on Wednesday. Indonesian President Joko Widodo this week called on LNG producers and coal miners to prioritise domestic market needs.

In a stock exchange filing, state coal miner PT Bukit Asam on Wednesday said ICMA and the trade ministry has submitted to the energy ministry names of companies that had fulfilled their domestic market obligations (DMO) "in which it is proposed to lift the export ban for such companies".

Those obligations require miners to sell 25% of their output to local power plants at a maximum price of $70 per tonne.

(Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe, Fransiska Nangoy, Sudharshan Varadhan; editing by Ed Davies and Jason Neely)

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