Saturday, November 12, 2016

Coal Price Fever Chills Power Plants in China

North China has been caught by sudden cold snap with temperatures already sub-zero, but local power plants have been feeling the chill for a long time as soaring coal prices stripped their profits away.

China's five largest power companies saw their combined coal-fired business lose 300 million yuan ($45 million) in September, the first group loss since August 2012. GD Power Development saw revenue shrink in the first nine months, with net profits down about four percent in the third quarter year on year. Shanghai Electric Power saw its Q3 profit fall by 10.3 percent. "The high coal price is eating away our profit and there are worries that a short-term shortage might push the price higher," said Liu Shenghan, sales manager of a power company in Shanxi Province, where 30 of 52 coal-fired power plants made losses in the first nine months.

The Bohai-Rim Steam-Coal Price Index, a gauge of coal prices in northern China's major ports, rose to 593 yuan per tonne last week, the 17th consecutive rise and about 60 percent up on the start of the year. On one hand, the country is cutting excess coal capacity, while on the other, coal prices are edging up. Once synonymous with excess capacity, coal sector is staging a comeback. It is not rare to see trucks waiting in line at coal mines to be loaded, with similar scenes in ports. Winter is coming, and the coal shortage follows rapid price increases in the past few weeks. The government is in the midst of cutting inefficient production; demand is increasing as the economy stabilizes; and hydroelectric generation is falling as the rainy season ends. Policymakers face a delicate balancing act and it should be emphasized that the reasons for cutting coal capacity are not exclusively economic; environmental factors play a huge part in current policy.

Read the full report @ Energy Central

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