Vietnam Q1 coal imports volume down 24.5%, but value up 101.6%

Workers walk near an excavator loading coal onto a truck at a coal port in Hanoi February 23, 2012. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI, April 7 (Reuters) - Vietnam's coal imports in the first quarter fell sharply from a year earlier due to a surge in global prices of the fossil fuel, with shipments from Russia seeing the largest decline, government data showed on Thursday.

The Southeast Asian country's coal imports in the January-March period fell 24.5% year-on-year to 6.43 million tonnes, but the value of those imports more than doubled to $1.48 billion, the Customs Department said in a report.

Vietnam, a regional manufacturing powerhouse, has been increasingly reliant on imported coal for power generation in recent years. Its key suppliers include Australia, Indonesia and Russia.

Vietnamese authorities have said the country is facing an imminent power shortage because of a supply crunch at some of its coal power plants, and that it seeks to import more of the fuel from Australia. read more

Coal imports from Russia in the first quarter fell 31% from a year earlier to 804,000 tonnes, according to the report. The value of coal imports from Russia in the January-March period, however, rose 60% to $202.5 million.

Traders said a surge in global coal prices have prompted buyers to cut their imports, while some are facing logistics and payments difficulties in trading with Russia due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor

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