Inspite of the Ukrainian war, China’s coal imports from Russia surged 14 per cent last month to 7.42 million tonnes.
The European Union had banned Russian coal imports due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. EU’s coal ban on Russia was announced in April and came into force on August 10. Russia accounted for 70 per cent EU’s thermal coal imports with Germany and Poland being the biggest buyers.
A report in a Brussels-based think tank Bruegel said Russian metallurgical coal accounts for 20 to 30 per cent of the EU’s coal imports.
The Bruegel report asserted that “replacing Russian coal imports will require lightspeed deployment of new supply chains”. However, the report added that “higher coal demand, lower coal supply and complex logistics” may lead to temporary disruptions. “Russian gas imports would be difficult and costly but feasible,” it added.
The report said Europe may face “significant coordination” and “logistical problems” while stating that “Europe and the US should forge a trans-Atlantic energy pact”.
The EU imported 45 per cent of its coal last year from Russia estimated to be worth $4.1 billion. EU member states the Netherlands, Austria and Germany have reportedly increased the use of coal-fired power plants even as the EU seeks to cut natural gas use by 15 per cent due to surging prices.
Data from the General Administration of Customs showed China’s coal import from Russia was the highest since 2017. China bought 6.49 million tonnes of coal from Russia in July last year. Reports claim Russia offered discounted rates to China as Putin’s regime seeks new coal markets in the wake of EU sanctions.