North Korean Ships Head Home After China Refuses Shipment
A source at Dandong Chengtai, one of China’s biggest buyers of North Korean coking coal, said the company had 600,000 metric tons (mt) of North Korean coal sitting at various ports, and a total of 2 million mt was stranded at Chinese ports.
Eikon data shows that most of these ships have recently left Chinese coal ports, including Weihai and Peng Lai, returning to North Korea full or mostly filled with cargo. Previously, Reuters reported that Malaysia briefly prevented a North Korean ship carrying coal from China from entering its port in Penang because of a suspected breach in sanctions. The ship was eventually allowed to unload its 6,300 mt of anthracite coal.
To make up for the shortfall from North Korea, China has ramped up imports from the United States in an unexpected boon for US President Donald Trump, who has declared he wants to revive his country’s struggling coal sector. Eikon data shows no US coking coal was exported to China between late 2014 and 2016, but shipments soared to over 400,000 mt by late February. This trend was exacerbated after cyclone Debbie knocked out supplies from the world’s top coking coal region in Australia’s state of Queensland, forcing Chinese steel makers to buy even more US cargoes.