Korea Purchases Colombian Coal Amidst Rising Asian Demand

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Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

SEOUL, KOREA — South Korean state utility Korea South East Power Co Limited has bought six capesize coal cargoes after its first Colombian-only coal tender, traders participating in the tender said. KOSEP awarded three cargoes to EDF Trading and three to Swiss-based trader Gunvor at an FOB price of around USD 88.50 a ton, the traders said.

KOSEP will use its own ships to import the coal. The significance of this tender, among numerous Korean tenders, is that it highlights how Colombian coal is now priced competitively in Asia markets and undercutting other origins, a trend which is likely to continue this year.

Oversupply has depressed demand and prices considerably in Europe but the Asian market are more balanced and buyers there are increasingly open to take Colombian and U.S. coal, and to pay more than their European counterparts. Just about every trader with a long position in Colombian coal - and that is most of them - offered into the KOSEP tender as firms struggle to find buyers for this origin outside Europe.

The prices in the deal equate to USD 112-113 a ton CIF, levels that offer suppliers a better margin than selling to Europe even with higher freight costs from Colombia to Korea. A DES ARA Europe trade earlier this week at USD 94 a ton was USD 4.50 below API2 coal swaps at the time of the trade, whereas the awards into KOSEP were less than a dollar a ton below API2 swaps, traders said.

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