Coal imports for blending halves this year


KOLKATA: Coal imports by power utilities for blending with domestic coal has halved during April 2016 and January 2017 against the previous corresponding period on account of more coal being made available by Coal India.

According to data compiled by the coal ministry, between April 2016 and January 2017, power utilities imported 16.6 million tonnes of coal against 31.6 million tonnes during the previous corresponding period in 2015-16.

The quantity of coal imported by the power utilities in 2015-16 decreased to 37.1 million tonnes from 48.5 million tonnes in 2014-15.

In fact, total coal imports have been consistently reducing over the last three years. Between April and December of 2016-17, 144.87 million tonnes of coal was imported against 146.12 million tonnes during the same period in 2015-16. Total coal imports in 2015-16 was 199.9 million tonnes as compared to 217.8 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Over the last several months, Coal India jacked up production and has managed to ease supplies. This resulted in transition from a coal deficit scenario to a surplus one. Coal mines as well as power plants are now flush with coal.

In the recent past Coal India has been targeting coastal power plants by offering them a mix of high energy and low energy content coal which can replace their requirement for imports. While high energy coal is being supplied from Eastern Coalfields and Bharat Coking Coal Ltd, low energy content coal is being supplied from other subsidiaries of the coal monopoly.

The company has recently tweaked its long-term forward e-auction calendar to supply a mix of high energy and low energy content coal simultaneously. Both categories when bought in 70:30 ratio, and blended can readily substitute requirements of import based thermal power plants located in coastal regions.

The move was aimed to help coastal companies save on foreign exchange and reduce coal imports which is now witnessing a substantial price rise following supply cuts in the global market. It would reduce cost of power generation which can lead to savings for power producers as well as power consumers.

Coastal thermal power plants are built to take 30 per cent high energy content and 70 per cent high ash low energy content coal. We would be supplying them exactly the same.

“At today’s international prices, a 70:30 mix of low energy with high energy – both Indian, will be cheaper even if we supply it to ports at Krishnapattam,” a senior Coal India official said.

The plans involved supplying high grade coal from Ranigunj mines of Eastern Coalfields’ while lower grade would be sourced from Talcher’s Ib Valley. Both grades of coal would be supplied either to Kirshnapattam, Paradip or the Dhamra port where it would be blended. The blended product would be transported to power plants through inland waterways for sea.