By Yahdian Falah
January 18, 2022 - Coal stocks at the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) transshipment hub have increased, despite firm coal burn in Germany and tight spot availability.
Combined stocks at four of the hub's main ports rose to 3.56mn t on 16 January, up by 118,000t from a week earlier.
Inventories at Vlissingen's Ovet saw the biggest increase, of 140,000t to 285,000t. Coal stocks at Rotterdam's OBA fell by 20,000t to 730,000t and hit a fresh multi-year low. Coal stocks at EBS fell by 20,000t to 148,000t while at EMO, inventories were unchanged at 2.4mn t.
Total ARA stocks remained low by historical norms and are 0.8mn t lower on the year and 1.8mn t below the five-year seasonal average.
Firm German Coal Burn
Average daily German coal burn rose by 34pc on 10-16 January to a seven-week high of 9.3GW, driven by lower wind output, rising power demand and low nuclear generation, according to data from Fraunhofer ISE.
Average daily nuclear output remains at 3.8GW, down on the December average of 7.43GW, owing to the closure of 4.05GW of capacity on 31 December. Average daily wind output almost halved to 12.3GW, supporting fossil-fuelled generation. Gas output more than doubled to 10.5GW, the highest since mid-April 2021.
Coal's share of combined coal and gas output was 58pc, 12 percentage points lower on the week but still above 44pc a year ago.
German thermal generation could be dented this week on rising wind output and a downward revision of average daily available coal-fired capacity. Wind load factors for 17-23 January are forecast at 16-63pc, or 35pc on average, according to Spot Renewables. This would bring this week's average wind output to 22.4GW, 83pc up on a week earlier.
Available coal capacity in Germany is expected to average 12.6GW this week, unchanged from last week but revised down by 0.6GW compared with the previous capacity report on 10 January, EEX data show. Coal load factor on 9-16 January was a chunky 86pc of available capacity but should head down on expectations of rising wind output on 17-23 January. Assuming that the coal load factor persists at 86pc this week, coal output would reach 10.8GW, the highest since at least 2021.
River Levels Heading Lower
Water levels on the Rhine are trending down this week, nearing levels where barge transport could experience restrictions.
River levels at the Kaub measuring point are forecast at 175-229cm on 17-21 January, down from the current 229cm, according to monitoring service Elwis. The forecast range falls below the threshold level for unrestricted barging of 180-200cm at the key measuring point. If the issues persist, this could lead to a stockbuild in ARA, a depletion of coal stocks at power plants and could prompt utilities to reduce coal burn.
Spot availability in the ARA region is already tight with railing difficulties in Russia to curtailing availability in the region. Some participants have warned of non-performance issues. Spot availability from other origins, including South Africa and Colombia, is also tight.