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Australian Coal Export Ports Threatened by Cyclone

Tropical cyclone Kirrily is tracking toward the state of Queensland in northeastern Australia, making coal port operators nervous about operations and exports.  

Cyclone Kirrily is expected to make landfall on Queensland’s coast and islands late on January 24 or early on January 25.

Coal ports near the Bowen Basin, which contains the largest coal reserves in Australia, are expected to be most affected by the path of the cyclone, according to Argus.  

The Abbot Point, Dalrymple Bay (DBCT), and Hay Point terminals are on the predicted path of the tropical cyclone.

Heavy rainfall is expected to accompany the storm, “And so depending on its path, that rainfall is likely to cause flooding in parts of the state,” Queensland Premier Steven Miles said at a news conference, quoted by The Associated Press.

In the city of Mackay, which hosts the Hay Point and DBCT terminals, the regional harbormaster has closed pilotage areas, waterways, marinas, buoy mooring grids, and anchorages, Argus reported on Wednesday. Vessels are not allowed to leave cyclone moorings until they receive an all-clear from authorities. The local port authorities for Townsville, Bowen, and Abbot Point have also ordered ships not to leave their moorings. 

Australia is the world’s fifth largest producer, the second largest exporter, and has the third largest reserves of coal in the world. The state of Queensland hosts around half of Australia’s black coal mines, according to federal government data. The Bowen Basin in Queensland also holds most of the remaining black coal reserves in Australia.

Before the cyclone, some exports of coking coal out of Australia were delayed due to disruptions to the rail system connecting some of the export terminals in the area, Hay Point, DBCT, and Abbot Point, according to Argus.

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In June 2023, the four biggest ports in Queensland – Hay Point, DBCT, Abbot Point, and Gladstone – saw their coal exports jump to the highest level in three and a half years, Argus reported at the time.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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