US, Venezuelan petcoke exports lessen on weaker European, Asian demand, 19th January 2015
Houston (Platts).- US and Venezuelan spot petcoke exportLight trading characterized US and Venezuelan spot petcoke export markets this week as traders restocked their supplies and buyers waited to see how far prices would fall. Low freight rates provided a cushion for some of the higher sulfur petcoke out of the US Gulf Coast, but one trader Friday said he was worried that might not last long as demand from China, Europe and India continued to weaken. Low sulfur petcoke from the US Gulf Coast, which more closely follows coal benchmarks and stays within the Atlantic Basin, felt the brunt of coal’s price declines. Platts assessed European-delivered CIF ARA front-quarter thermal coal at $55.10/mt Thursday, an eight-year low. Platts assessed 4%-%5.5% sulfur petcoke out of the Gulf Coast at $60-$65/mt this week, down $2/mt on each leg. “If coal pricing is going down, petcoke has to come down as well,” the trader said. While petcoke prices have weakened over the last several months, low freight rates have prevented more of a price drop, according to the trader, who said Asia continued to be a “dumping ground for high sulfur petcoke.” Freight rates across the board have gone down over the last month. One key route from Houston to Aliaga, Turkey, which Platts assessed at $13.50/mt on Thursday, has dropped 28.9% since closing at $19/mt December 1. “What’s helping high-end sulfur is the very low freight rate,” the European trader said. “On the mid-sulfur freight, it doesn’t help because coal is pushing down the price. Sooner or later, [coal prices] are going to affect the higher sulfur.” Platts assessed 6%-6.5% sulfur from the USGC at $51-$56/mt, down $1 on both legs, and assessed 5%-6% sulfur petcoke at $59-$62/mt, unchanged from the previous week. Lower sulfur US West Coast petcoke also bore the brunt of lower coal prices, along with China’s reduced demand and growing supply in India. “India and China are not going to pay a premium,” a petcoke buyer said. “They can wait. They can take coal instead.” Platts assessed USWC petcoke with 4% sulfur at $72-$75/mt, down $3 on the low end and $2 on the higher end. Lower sulfur Venezuelan petcoke, meanwhile, also felt the impact of weak European demand. Prices held relatively stable, but traders expressed continued concerns over loading issues that have kept freight in harbor. Platts assessed 4% Venezuelan petcoke spot prices at $57-$61/mt, down $1/mt on each leg from the previous week.