October 19, 2015 / 3:53 PM / 4 years ago

China 2016 coal imports could fall a further 25 million tonnes

A man stands amidst coal at a factory in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, April 29, 2014. REUTERS/William Hong

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Coal shipments to top importer China could fall a further 25 million tonnes in 2016, analysts said on Monday, with foreign suppliers struggling to compete in a massively oversupplied market.

Shipments of coal to China over the first nine months to September fell 29.8 percent to 156.36 million tonnes. Volumes are on track to fall about 60 million tonnes in 2015.

The recent government push to support its domestic market and focus on cleaner energy sources has raised doubts over whether its status as an importer is sustainable.

“We assume a further 25 million tonne drop from China,” said Fabio Gabrieli, director of dry bulk analysis at Mercuria Energy Trading, speaking at the Coaltrans world coal conference.

“We believe that next year what China drops is going to impact Indonesian exports,” Gabrieli said, adding that Indonesian exports were forecast to fall 20 million tonnes in 2016.

Colin Hamilton, head of commodities research at Macquarie, said he also forecast Chinese 2016 coal imports to drop by around 25 million tonnes and in the long term it was possible they could fall to zero.

In the past, China was one of the world’s largest thermal coal exporters, until around 2004 when rocketing demand at home helped drive the need for imports.

Reporting by Sarah McFarlane; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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