German coal importers say they can handle Russian ban at a price

European Union ambassadors were discussing new sanctions on Wednesday, including a ban on coal imports, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The supply of coal along the sea routes can be changed, but at higher prices,” association chairman Alexander Bethe said in a statement responding to an inquiry.

“A conversion to alternative coal grades is not without problems for power plants. However, it should be possible to do without Russian coal completely by next winter,” he said.

Germany imported around 18 million tonnes of coal for steel and power generation from Russia last year, depending on the country for 53% of total supply and the volume accounting for 2% of global seaborne trade.

VDKi said bottlenecks in Russian supplies had since late last year prompted importers to look for alternatives, including in Australia, Colombia, Indonesia, Mozambique, South Africa and the States. -United.

The group did not specify how much the additional alternative supplies would cost.

Southwestern Germany’s EnBW, which bought 3.6 million tonnes of Russian coal last year for its power and heat operations, or 86% of its total input, said it had stocks “that will last well into the current year”.

He also said he was accelerating purchases from alternative producing countries and that the situation regarding a potential loss of Russian supplies was “under control”.

Mentioning suppliers similar to those identified by VDKi, the company said it was examining the suitability of potential new delivery partners and whether the quality of their coal was suitable for its plants.

Benchmark coal prices for delivery in Europe in 2023 are at just under $197 a tonne, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon. It’s below a $250 contract high in early March when fears of embargo shortages first surfaced, but it nearly tripled in price a year ago.

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Barbara Lewis)

By Vera Eckert

James R. Rhodes