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Atlantic Coking Coal: Ukraine Seeks Extra U.S. Tonnes



June 6, 2019 - U.S. export coking coal prices edged down further today as a negative global sentiment pervades, but some additional buying interest emerged in eastern Europe, potentially in connection to new restrictions on Russian coking coal exports to Ukraine.

The Argus daily fob Hampton Roads assessment for low-volatile coking coal came down by $1/t today to $177/t. The high-volatile type A (HVA) index edged down by 50¢/t to $194/t fob Hampton Roads, while the high-volatile type B (HVB) assessed fell by $2/t to $156.50/t fob.

But while limited spot demand from European mills continues to weigh on price sentiment for July-December shipment discussions, U.S. producers do not appear particularly concerned.

A German buyer is seeking a Panamax cargo of high volatile material from the U.S. for shipment early in the third quarter at a fixed price.

A U.S. producer has received an enquiry from Ukraine this week, potentially linked to new restrictions on Russian coal exports to Ukraine whereby companies must secure government permission before any Russian material is dispatched. "Ukrainians are still buying from Russia but want to take from other sources to be on the safe side if possible," said a U.S. producer.

It remains to be seen how efficiently the new regulation — which came into effect on 1 June — will be implemented and whether there will be any disruption to Russian supply. Russia's ministry of economic development has already submitted a list of permitted Russian coal producers to other government bodies, but the details of the list and any information relating to tonnages have not been disclosed.

Some market observers were today speculating that an accident at Evraz's Raspadskaya mine might lend support to Russian spot prices. But Evraz itself has played down the significance of the "minor" accident, saying that two of the mine's three longwalls continue to operate as normal.


Elsewhere, there is still some some availability of U.S. HVB material for the later part of the third quarter and the fourth quarter and producers are likely to have some high volatile A to offer in the coming weeks. Some traders also say they have material left to place, albeit the specifications might not be a fit with all potential customers. But overall spot availability remains limited.