SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Thermal coal and gas prices have coursed into a bull run, propelled by particularly strong demand across Asia, where electricity consumption is surging thanks to healthy economic growth just as seasonal needs rise with the start of summer.
Spot thermal coal cargo prices for export from Australia’s Newcastle terminal last settled at $117 per tonne, the highest level since February 2012. That is up by more than 130 percent from 2016’s record lows.
Coal prices have not just been pushed up by firm demand, which has recovered from 2015 lows, but also by several mine closures and weak investment into capacity expansion. In gas markets, spot prices for Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) are at almost $10 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) – a 2018 high, and up by 145 percent from 2016 troughs.
“Japanese and South Korean (LNG) storage ended the winter at the lowest levels for at least five years,” said Nicholas Browne, senior gas analyst at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
“Given the strength of Chinese demand last winter, Japanese and Korean buyers utilities want to ensure that storage is full before the winter of 2018/2019 to avoid being caught out, said Browne.