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Coal Prices In India Soar As Buyers Race To Procure Fuel

Coal prices in India have jumped in local auctions after buyers race to procure local fuel amid the market panic that started with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Some buyers in India have paid 340 percent above baseline prices in local auctions so far in March, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing sources familiar with the developments. The seller was Coal India Ltd, the largest coal producer in the country and the world.

The company usually sells around 15 percent to 20 percent of the coal it mines via an online auction system, under which customers make offers above a set minimum price.

“Spot e-auction prices reflect general market sentiment. It is the market response for coal that determines the premium,” Coal India said in a statement carried by Bloomberg but declined to comment on the hefty premiums buyers are willing to pay for coal.

Coal prices jumped to record highs last week as the market fears a supply crunch amid the sanctions against Russia and the “self-sanctioning” of buyers of Russian energy.

The war in Ukraine could exceed $500 this year, according to Rystad Energy research from earlier this month. Russia is Europe’s largest supplier of thermal coal. According to Eurostat, last year, Russia supplied EU member states with 36 million tons of thermal coal, representing 70% of total thermal coal imports. While volumes have stayed about the same, a decade ago, Russian coal imports were just half that at 35%.

While total power coal demand has been on a declining trend for the last 10 years, coal-fired power generators in Europe have become increasingly dependent on Russian coal, and Russia’s market share has grown substantially over time.

“There is simply an almost complete absence of surplus thermal coal available globally. Prices have shot past $400 and the $500 per tonne mark seems to be in play,” says Steve Hulton, VP of Coal at Rystad Energy.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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