Australia filling new gaps
Different data showing different developments
“In this fast-moving environment with import restrictions disrupting established trades, it is important to follow data from both the exporting and importing countries, especially when the discrepancy between them is as big as it has been at the start of this year,” says Sand.
What does it mean for the all-important tonne mile demand?
While shipowners and operators have been quick to adapt to the changing trade patterns, the wider question of how the restrictions will affect shipping demand still needs addressing. Looking at China in isolation, the average sailing distance so far this year for a cargo from Indonesia is about half that of a cargo coming from Australia, while coal from South Africa sails 1.5 times longer.
Imports from Russia provide a tonne mile boost compared to Australia if they come from the Baltic of Black Seas. However, the vast majority of Russian seaborne coal exports to China are shipped from East Russia, lowering tonne mile demand. Any increase in imports from Mongolia is also bad news for shipping as they are all imported by land.
When looking at distances covered by Indian coal imports, distances sailed increase by respectively 1.9 or 1.5 times when Indonesia or South Africa replace Australian coal. Japanese and South Korean imports both see higher tonne miles generated by imports from South Africa compared to Australia, while tonne miles fall if the imports instead come from Indonesia.
“Seaborne coal has traditionally had the lowest average haul of the major dry bulk trades, and the changes currently happening are unlikely to change that, as some trades are replaced by longer hauls and other by shorter ones. It will be more important to see how demand for Chinese coal imports develops and how tensions between China and Australia unwinds in the future,” says Sand.