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Indonesia's Coal Exports Face Delays on Logistical Hurdles, Despite Eased Ban



By Rituparna Nath, Suyash Pande, Pritish Raj and Nicholas Zhang 

January 26, 2022 - Delays in shipment of Indonesia's thermal coal continued due to logistical bottlenecks and impeding paperwork, market sources said Jan. 25, even after the three-week blanket ban on coal exports was eased on Jan. 20.

"We are still waiting for a final green light from the government to sail out; some routine paperwork is also taking time," an Indonesia-based producer said. "We have to clear a lot of pending orders from January that was halted due to the export ban, so we're waiting to first fulfill those contracts."

Some producers said there was a shortage of barges even for local supplies.

"Tugs and barges are always affected during this time of the year due to the wet season and the Navy may even be deployed to look for them adrift in Indonesian waters," a source said.

Another Indonesia-based producer said: "The monsoon is making it difficult to get barges; the second issue is the long queue at power plants to discharge cargoes."

This delay comes at a time when the thermal coal market is tight as a result of the export ban, which led to a supply shortage in key destinations and an increase in prices. Platts had assessed Indonesia's 4,200 kcal/kg GAR at $68/mt FOB on Jan. 24, up from $63.45/mt FOB on Dec. 31, 2021.

Market participants expect a short-term upswing in spot prices amid anticipated supply tightness due to order backlogs for January, S&P Global Platts reported earlier. "I expect prices to be higher since spot cargoes are hard to find," a trader said.

Miners said since the export ban was enforced for more than half of January, the shipment laycans have been delayed and will likely spill over to February.

"We cannot make fresh deals till the time existing contracts are fulfilled," another miner said.

On Dec. 31, 2021, Indonesia imposed a blanket ban on overseas sale of coal for the entire month of January to prioritize domestic supplies as inventories ran low. Mid-January onwards, the ban was eased for some miners who had fulfilled their domestic market obligation, or DMO, under which miners have an obligation to supply 25% of their annual production to the domestic market at a capped price.

Miners are also compelled to keep barges aside for local supplies before concluding overseas deals as the energy ministry has proposed reviewing DMO on a monthly basis instead of annually.


Indonesia produced 606.71 million mt of coal in 2021 as against 565.69 million mt in 2020. It exported 314.9 million mt in 2021 compared with 331.94 million mt in 2020, according to Minerba One Data Indonesia. In January 2021, the country exported 29.3 million mt.