Oil Report

China's coking coal imports from Russia hit record high in April

BEIJING, May 20 (Reuters) - China’s coking coal imports from Russia surged to a record in April, as buyers took advantage of a large discount against other supplies.

The world’s biggest coal consumer brought in 1.71 million tonnes of the metallurgical coal from Russia last month, more than double the 761,287 tonnes in the same period in 2021, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday.

As many buyers have stopped buying from Russia ahead of a European Union embargo due to be implemented in August, Russian cargoes are priced at a steep discount.

Reuters reported earlier this month that some Chinese traders have sought ways to settle payments with Russia even after Western countries blocked Russian banks’ access to the SWIFT international payment system.

“Chinese and Indian traders are snapping up Russian cargoes as Western countries scale back, even though the embargo has not officially taken effect yet,” said a Beijing-based coal trader.

About 732,584 tonnes of Russian coal were loaded and headed to China in the first two weeks of May, data compiled by Mysteel showed.

Analysts previously estimated China could import 20 million tonnes more Russian coal in 2022 than last year.

The customs data on Friday also showed shipments from top supplier Indonesia, mainly thermal coal, reached 15.95 million tonnes in April, up from 11.74 million tonnes a year before.

China’s total coal imports in April jumped 43% versus the prior month, driven by panic buying over concerns of supply disruptions stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Arrivals from Australia reached 129,142 tonnes in April, the data also showed, with the fuel clearing customs after sitting in Chinese ports since late 2020 due to an unofficial ban on Australian coal. (Reporting by Dominique Patton in Beijing and Muyu Xu in Singapore; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)