Poland's coal imports from U.S. rose five-fold in 2017

WARSAW, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Poland’s coal imports from the United States jumped five-fold last year to 839,000 tonnes due to shortages on the domestic market, data from the state-run ARP agency, which monitors the Polish coal market, showed.

Poland, which generates most of its electricity from coal, faced coal shortages last year mostly because mining giant PGG failed to meet its original output targets.

That is why state-run coal trader Weglokoks, which mostly exports coal, has received two imported cargoes from the United States since November and is awaiting one more, a source familiar with the firm said.

The cargoes will be mixed with Polish coal and exported and sold to local power plants.

Coal imported from the United States accounted for 6.3 percent of total coal imports in 2017. Over sixty percent of the U.S. coal was coking coal used in steel making, but unlike in 2016, Poland also bought thermal coal overseas.

Most of the coal imported last year came from Russia and Poland also significantly increased purchases in Colombia.

The Polish unit of steelmaker ArcelorMittal also said it had imported coking coal from suppliers including in North America.

“Due to the shortfall in domestic supplies of coking coal last year ArcelorMittal Poland was forced to import the missing volumes,” a spokeswoman for the Polish unit said in an email.

“The increase of high sea imports in 2017 versus 2016 amounted to around 30 percent. The main import directions included: Australia, Africa, and Northern America,” she added.

According to the energy ministry, Poland will remain dependant on coal for decades, with its share in electricity production seen falling to 60 percent by 2030 from around 80 percent now.

Coal output at Polish mines fell 6.5 percent in 2017 to around 66 million tonnes. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko Editing by Mark Potter)