| NEW DELHI, June 17
NEW DELHI, June 17 Indian coal imports climbed
12 percent in May from the year before, provisional data from
research firm OreTeam showed, with power companies scrambling to
meet demand as scorching weather drove customers to crank up
fans or air conditioning.
Electricity demand hit multi-year highs in many states over
the last two months as temperatures soared, forcing the new
government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to firefight public
anger over frequent blackouts.
Coal feeds more than half India's power generation and its
share is growing despite a local shortage of the fuel.
That means imports continue to march higher, jumping to
their biggest for the month of May in at least three years at
15.6 million, said OreTeam research head Prakash Duvvuri.
The country's coal imports stood at 13.9 million tonnes in
May 2013 and 15.2 million tonnes this April, according to
The firm collects coal data from its representatives at
ports and in mining regions. India's government does not
regularly release such numbers.
A stronger rupee has also made imports more attractive. The
partially convertible currencty gained 2 percent
against the U.S. dollar in May.
India has become the world's third-largest coal importer
despite sitting on its fifth-biggest reserves of the commodity.
State-run Coal India Ltd accounts for about 80
percent of the country's total output of 562.6 million tonnes,
but the company has been falling short of its targets for the
past few years due to difficulties in obtaining environmental
nods, lack of railway access and employee strikes.
Indonesia is the main seller to India, but talk of limiting
production and tightening exports there have prompted some
Indian buyers to try and develop alternative suppliers in
countries such as Malayasia, traders said.
But shipments would not be an issue in the short term, they
"There's a surplus in Indonesia and China's current buying
is not typical - they have slowed down," said a Delhi-based
trader who buys Indonesian coal. He declined to be named as he
was not authorised to speak with media.
India's total coal-based power capacity rose about 1.2
percent in May from April, according to the Central Electricity
(Editing by Joseph Radford)