COLUMN-South African coal loses Europe, but gains South Asia – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – February 4, 2018)

CAPE TOWN, Feb 5 (Reuters) – A decade ago South Africa sent the bulk of its coal exports to Europe, a market now disappearing right before its eyes.

But far from being worried, South Africa’s coal exporters are confident that they can increase shipments in coming years by becoming the supplier of choice to new markets in Asia, particularly Pakistan and India.

The common theme among speakers at last week’s South African Coal Export Conference, hosted by IHS Markit, was that South Africa is in pole position to take advantage of growth in South Asia.

While India is currently the world’s second-largest coal importer behind China, the outlook for imports is far from certain, with the government officially targeting a goal of zero foreign purchases, a position in conflict with the views of several utilities that rely on imports to fuel coastal power plants.

But even leaving aside India, South Africa looks better positioned than top exporters Australia and Indonesia to meet Pakistan’s rising demand, which may turn out to be quite significant.

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