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Baltimore Coal Exports Blocked After Bridge Collapse

Baltimore Port’s coal exports are likely to be blocked for weeks after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, according to a Pennsylvania coal trading firm.  

The bridge collapsed early on Tuesday after a cargo ship lost power and slammed into the construction, which crumbled within seconds and will disrupt navigation near the Baltimore port, which is one of the biggest coal export terminals in America.  

Baltimore is the nation’s second-largest coal exporting port after Norfolk, Virginia, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In 2022, about one-fifth of U.S. coal exports left through Baltimore.

The port of Baltimore is also one of the 20 largest ports in the U.S. and handles both coal and petroleum products.

Following the bridge collapse, up to 2.5 million tons of coal exports from Baltimore could be blocked for up to six weeks, Ernie Thrasher, CEO at Pennsylvania coal trading firm Xcoal Energy & Resources, told Bloomberg.

“You’ll see some diversion to other ports but the other ports are pretty busy,” Thrasher added. 

“There’s a limit on how much you can divert,” said the executive, whose firm works with several coal suppliers. 

Globally, the disrupted exports are unlikely to have a huge impact on coal prices, but many coal cargoes from Baltimore are typically headed for India, so there the impact could be felt along the supply chain, Thrasher told Bloomberg.

At any rate, the bridge collapse has already disrupted coal shipments and delivery times.

For example, rail company CSX, which owns the Curtis Bay coal pier in Baltimore, told Reuters on Tuesday that existing coal customers should expect “potential shipment delays.”

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Coal producer CONSOL Energy said vessel access in and out of the CONSOL Marine Terminal, located in the Port of Baltimore, has been delayed. As of Tuesday morning, the company did not have a definitive timeline of when vessel access or normal operations will resume.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • George Doolittle on March 27 2024 said:
    Should not be difficult to remove the fallen bridge from the main shipping channel and #irony should be in fact far easier to get into and out of the Port of Baltimore once done as, well...there is no Bridge there now. Other Ports obviously will need to dramatically increase their over-sight of their operations in the meantime which could create *"delays"* elsewhere/everywhere into upon all shipping in North America. Definitely a direct hit into upon the FSK Bridge in Baltimore so very peculiar so precise a strike but not unheard of (1978 West Seattle Bridge strike, etc.)

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