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US Hampton Roads Coal Exports Fall to 4-Year Low in 2020



February 3, 2021 - Coal exports out of the terminals in the Hampton Roads region in Virginia dropped to 26.64 million st in 2020, down 20.9% from 2019 and the second-lowest total in the last 13 years, only higher than 21.65 million st in 2016, according to data from the Virginia Maritime Association released Feb. 2.


In December, exports declined to 2.16 million st, down 5.1% from 2.28 million st in November and 20.5% from 2.72 million st in the year-ago month. It was the lowest figure for the corresponding month since 2.07 million st was exported in December 2016.


Exports dropped in December, despite thermal and metallurgical coal prices rising to multi-month highs.


FOB Hampton Roads 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal rose to average a 20-month high $83.54/mt in December, while US East Coast low-vol metallurgical coal averaged a nine-month high $132.64/mt FOB, compared with $82.84/mt and $112.67/mt, respectively, in November, and $80.77/mt and $127.53/mt in the year-ago month.


CIF ARA 6,000 kcal/kg coal averaged a 21-month high $66.84/mt in December, up from $53.94/mt in November and $52.72/mt averaged in the year-ago month.


The Hampton Roads region saw 30 vessels set sail in December, down from 31 in November and 38 in the year-ago month. Total departures in 2020 was at 355, down from 466 in the same period a year earlier. 


Pier IX Exports Drop to 13-year Low in 2020


Of the three individual terminals in the region, only Dominion Terminal Associates saw a monthly increase, while all three piers saw yearly declines.


Exports out of Lamberts Point, in Norfolk, totaled 925,587 st in Decembr, down from the eight-month high 1 million st in November and 949,634 st last year.


In 2020, exports from Lamberts Point were at a four-year low 11.22 million st, down from 13.97 million st a year ago.


Pier IX, which is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan and served by CSX, exported 320,048 st in December, down from 438,812 st in November and 473,024 st in the year-ago month.


Exports at Pier IX were at a 13-year low 3.92 million st, down from 7.38 million st in 2019 and the lowest total in a year since 3.84 million st was exported in 2007.


Dominion Terminal Associates, also in Newport News, saw exports rise to 916,562 st in December, up from 836,186 st in November, but down from 1.3 million st in the year-ago month.


Coal exports at DTA -- which is owned by Arch Resources and Contura Energy and served by CSX -- totaled a four-year low 11.51 million st in 2020, down from 12.34 million st in 2019 and the lowest since 7.73 million st in 2016.