By Tyler Godwin
October 12, 2018 - Coal exports out of the terminals in the Hampton Roads region in Virginia were at an eight-month low 3.09 million st in September, down 28% from a four-year high 4.29 million st in August and the lowest since 2.91 million st in January, due to disturbances from Hurricane Florence, Virginia Maritime Association data showed Wednesday.
However, September was down just 0.9% from 3.11 million st in the year-ago month.
CIF ARA 6,000 kcal/kg coal, for 15-60 day delivery, averaged $91.56/mt for the first nine months of 2018, including $100/mt averaged in September, the second highest monthly average in the last six years. In the same period a year ago, it averaged $81.74/mt and $92.11/mt in September 2017.
Cumulative exports from the terminals have reached a five-year high 32.67 million st since January, up 25.7% from 25.99 million st a year earlier and the highest amount for the first nine months of a year since 32.77 million st in 2014.
The main shipping channel at the Port of Virginia, the largest coal-exporting census district in the US, was closed on September 11, after clearing all vessels out of the region the previous day, in anticipation of Florence. But the storm made landfall farther south in North Carolina, so the channel was reopened on September 15, sooner than the two-plus weeks expected by sources.
The Hampton Roads region saw 42 coal vessels set sail in September, down from a 2018-high of 53 in August and 45 in the year-ago month. It was the lowest departures since 35 in January.
In the first eight months of the year, 412 coal ships have departed the region, up from 341 ships in the same period a year ago.
Cumulative Individual Port Exports Still at Multi-Year Highs
In September, all three individual terminals in the region saw month-on-month decreases for only the third time in the last two years (May 2018 and April 2017).
Dominion Terminal Associates, based in Newport News, saw exports fall to 1.15 million st in September, down 28.2% from a month earlier. However, it was the only terminal to see a year-on-year increase, which exported 1.14 million st in September 2017.
Since January 1, coal exports at the terminal -- which is owned by Arch Coal and Contura Energy and served by CSX -- totaled 11.85 million st, up 34.8% from 8.79 million st in the same period a year ago and the highest since 12 million st in 2013.
Exports out of Lamberts Point in Norfolk totaled 1.19 million st in September, down 29.4% from 1.69 million st in August and the lowest monthly total since 1.18 million st in August 2017.
For the year, exports through the terminal, owned and operated by Norfolk Southern, totaled 13.5 million st, up 23.2% from 10.96 million st exported in the same period a year ago and the most since 16.11 million st in 2013.
Exports from Pier IX in Newport News totaled 740,694 st in September, down 25.5% from 994,514 st in August. Since January 1, exports at the terminal, which is owned and operated by Kinder Morgan and served by CSX, have reached 7.32 million st, up 17.3% from 6.24 million st in the first nine months of 2018 and the most since 8.81 million st in 2014.