Dry Bulk: Thermal coal lower usage under a potential new climate deal will adversely impact the market’s recovery


In direct contrast to the tanker market, the dry bulk one has seen demand for key commodities, such a coal, dwindling down over the course of the past year. With climate talks in Paris now in full swing, expectations are for a further squeeze on the consumption of “dirty fuels” and the improvement in energy efficiency and the promotion of use of cleaner energy technology. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Allied Shipbroking noted that “the pressure, as in the past, is likely to be put mostly on the developing economies which rely more heavily on “dirty” fossil fuels to cover their increasing energy demands. As part of their current pledge to lower their dependency on commodities like coal, countries such as China and India have already started to curb their appetite”.

According to Intermodal’s Head of Market Research & Asset Valuations, Mr. George Lazaridis, “this development has been heavily reflected during the course of this year if one takes a look at the importing volumes of coal into China (something that has been one of the main factors in the deterioration of the dry bulk freight market over the past 11 months). At the same time and although India had been making up for some of these losses in shipment volumes, it now looks that the situation has already started to shift dramatically, with import volumes of thermal coal into India stagnating over the past few months”.

Lazaridis notes that “the issue takes on a whole new magnitude when one combines the further problems caused to shipping not only if India takes on efforts to curb its dependency on coal but if it continues on with its plans to increase its independence from foreign imports by utilising its internal reserves by more than doubling its output over the next five years. India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is likely to take a stronger stance in defending the position of emerging markets, asking that more should be done on the side of the “rich world” in order to give room and opportunity for growth to emerging markets which are still playing a “catch up” game with the West. To what extent this will fall on deaf ears will be greatly influenced by the fact that most believe that further pledges for cutting down emissions should be put in place. Under any case it looks as though it will be a difficult sell to keep up the current consumption of commodities such as thermal coal”.

But it isn’t just coal that will take on the “heat” from this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. According to Lazaridis, “in its focus are all fossil fuels, with efforts to be taken to also reduce consumption in commodities such as oil as well. A sure point will be placed on the recent “Diesel Car” scandal, which in its wake will likely push for a further increase in emissions regulations within Cities inevitably boosting the promotion of other environ-mentally friendlier options for inter-city transportation, which are likely to be of greater efficiency and possibly have a higher reliance on other energy sources which are less polluting. This is something that has been noted for some time now, with many now seeing ever more unlikely the scenario of the developing world reaching a per capita consumption of crude oil on par with that the developed world has had in recent years”, Allied’s analyst noted.

He concluded by noting that “although judging from previous Climate Change conferences, the likelihood of any major commitments being drawn is minimal, it will still be a black cloud that will follow shipping markets over the coming years, influencing both trade in energy commodities as well as technology and efficiency of ships themselves. Keeping a close eye on the developments there from could lead to a better understanding of what new challenges the industry will have to face moving forward”.

Source from : Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide