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India’s Coal Crunch Could Drag On For 6 Months

The current coal shortage in India, which has an average of just three days worth of coal in stockpiles, could last for up to six months, Power Minister R.K. Singh told The Indian Express in an interview on Tuesday.

“I can’t say I am secure… If you have 40,000-50,000 MW (of thermal capacity) with less than three days of stock, you can’t be secure,” Singh told The Indian Express.  

India’s massive coal fleet is running out of coal, threatening a power crunch in the country that relies on the dirtiest fossil fuel for most of its electricity generation. Coal is the major power generating fuel in India, accounting for 70 percent of electricity generation.

Coal inventories at many of the 135 coal-fired power plants are at critically low levels, while India scrambles to get more coal supply amid a global crunch of energy supply and skyrocketing prices of coal and natural gas.

“I don’t know whether I will be comfortable in the next five-six, four-five months… Normally the demand starts coming down in the second half of October… when it (the weather) starts cooling… But it’s going to be touch and go,” Singh told The Indian Express.

As per India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA), cited by Reuters, more than 80 percent of India’s 135 coal-powered plants had less than a week left of coal inventories as of September 29, more than 50 percent had stocks for less than three days, and 16 plants had no coal at all.

As of October 1, coal stocks were critically low at 104 out of a total of 135 power plants, or 77 percent of all plants, Reuters columnist John Kemp noted.

Earlier last week, India, one of the world’s largest coal consumers, had inventories of the fuel at its lowest level since November 2017, government data cited by Bloomberg showed.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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