12th Annual Coal Markets Conference, 25-26 February, Singapore Hilton

New strategies and opportunities in a rapidly evolving coal industry.
A gathering of 80 coal industry experts was held in Singapore this week to discuss the Asian coal market and what current regulations and trends mean to buyers and sellers alike.
I attended the 12th  Annual Coal Markets Conference to deliver a keynote presentation on global energy market developments and to chair a session on price forecasting and global trade trends. My presentation generated a lot of interest in the US shale gas revolution and the possible impacts on Asian coal.
Everyone at such gatherings wants to know the price forecasts and volume trends for coal and transportation. But, the topic that dominated the proceedings was the rise of low rank coals. It’s amazing that 5000 kcal is now seen as a mid-high CV coal – how perception changes.
In the past, everyone wanted to know, what will be the price of coal? Today, people are asking how much for this, and how much for that? The market is so stratified with different qualities that coal is no longer just coal. Low CV coal is low proper, and moisture can be as high as 38%. Exporting this isn’t going to be cheap, but the coal is easy to mine and if it is close to a port, there’s little to challenge this market (except perhaps Mother Nature and the regular rainy season.)
However, countries that are importing coals are recognising this, and low rank coals have been identified as a target for taxation. China’s import ban on low CV coal, Korea’s tax on imported coal; what does this all mean for the market?  In addition, Indonesia’s proposed export ceiling and variable tax on coal has raised a large question mark.
Time will tell and the event was timed perfectly to identify these points, but still too early to discover any answers.
Speakers from banks, Indonesian and South African coal exporters, traders and brokers were represented. Even Pakistan’s first major coal investment was showcased and it makes for an impressive future for coal in this country desperate for electricity.
All in all, the two day event was valuable and provided an insight into the latest developments of the coal trends in the Pacific and Indian Ocean markets.
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