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Tighter Chinese coal import controls add to Guangxi port delays
Team Sea and Coast | 29/06/2019

Several traders noted unloading and custom clearance for imports has lengthened at public ports in the province, including Qinzhou and Fangcheng. A China-based trader said vessels that have arrived are required to submit applications to berth, and approval process will take about five to six days.

“Traders will incur a large amount of demurrage costs as a result,” said the trader.

S&P Global Platts reported last month that the unloading process has slowed at Guangxi ports as they approach their import quota.

Another east China-based trader said Australian cargoes are still facing long delays, and the unloading to customs clearance process for Indonesian cargoes had also lengthened.

“Usually Indonesian cargoes will take about 20 days to unload and clear, but recently it has increased to about 28 days,” the second trader said.

The whole process till customs clearance at Guangxi ports might take over 30 days, the second trader said.

A power plant in Qinzhou in the same province has called for a fresh tender for about 200,000 mt of thermal coal. The tender closed on Friday.

“Traders will likely have to shoulder the extra demurrage costs if they are awarded the tender,” the first trader said.

Market sources added that some power plants might still have the ability to negotiate for more imports if required.

However, end-users will still have the quota, and the situation was said to be different from port to ports, a southeast China-based trader said.

“Clearance process at some ports in east China is pretty smooth,” he said.

China imported a total of around 281 million mt of coal last year. The country’s custom authorities are expected to keep this year’s imports at similar levels.

Total coal imports from January to May, including coking coal, were 127.39 million mt, up 5.5% from a year ago. This would mean 154 million mt is left for the remaining seven months, but at current rates, imports would overshoot 2018’s total by 25 million mt.

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