Sat. May 21st, 2022

coal power plant Photo: VCG

coal power plant Photo: VCG

Chinese provincial governments are encouraging more coal imports from Russia, Indonesia and Kazakhstan to address domestic market shortages.

To meet local demand, State Grid Heilongjiang Hongxinglong Electric Power Bureau has increased its electricity supply from Russia. From October 1, the agency increased the operating time of the Heihe converter station, which connects power transmission from Amur, Russia and Heihe, Heilongjiang province, from 5 hours to 16 hours a day.

The move remedied a lack of power, the state grid said Wednesday.

Russian coal and electricity exports to China have been growing steadily in recent years, taking market share previously in Australian coal, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“Most of Russia’s coal reserves are close to northeastern China, which means that imports of coal from Russia could save transportation costs,” he added.

According to the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, Russia exported 107.3 million tons of coal in the first half of 2021, an increase of 9.8 percent on an annual basis. Exports to China reached 24.15 million tonnes in the first six months against 16.2 million tonnes in the same period last year.

Russia is rich in coal resources. It is close to China geographically and has a good relationship with China, making it an ideal source of coal imports for China, Han Xiaoping, chief analyst at energy industry website, told the Global Times on Thursday.

However, imports from Russia account for only a small portion of China’s coal consumption, he noted.

“Given the cold climate in Russia, it has limited working hours every year, and with China’s goal of curbing coal consumption, it is unlikely that Russia will set up new mining facilities to increase supplies to China,” he said.

Other provinces have also called for an increase in overseas coal supplies. East China’s Zhejiang Provincial Energy Group announced on Monday that it unloaded 136,000 tons of high-quality coal imported from Kazakhstan, the first time the province bought coal from Kazakhstan.

Northeast China’s Jilin province promotes coal imports from Russia, Indonesia and Mongolia, according to the provincial government.

China, too, is releasing Australian coal from tied-up stocks, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing traders familiar with the matter.

A senior industry insider told the Global Times on Thursday that he was unaware of the alleged import of Australian coal, as some foreign media reported.

“China has various sources of supply, including Indonesia and Russia, which are currently the largest and permanent exporters of natural resources,” the person said.

Since China suspended purchases of coal from Australia, the market gap has been filled by imports from Indonesia, Russia and Chinese local mines, although there is still room to resume coal imports from Australia, Lin said.

According to Chinese customs data covering the first eight months of the year, Indonesia remained the largest source of coal imports, rising 19 percent year-on-year. China’s coal imports from the United States increased seven times year-on-year, while imports from South Africa rose to 4.38 million tonnes last year.

In addition, coal imports from Canada, Russia and the Philippines increased 67 percent, 62 percent and 49 percent year-on-year, respectively.

This round of coal imports comes as a temporary measure and a supplement to China’s coal shortage amid rising prices, Lin said, noting that imported coal only accounts for less than 10 percent of China’s total consumption.

Coal and electricity supplies are expected to be tight in the near future, experts say.

In order to meet the demand in the Chinese market, it is expected that the government will rely on measures such as To encourage coal mining and raise electricity prices to ensure the supply of thermal power, Lin said.

In the long run, the government will continue to limit coal consumption and switch to solar panels, wind turbines and nuclear power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Han said.

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