India coal imports jump 20 pct in Feb as prices dip-OreTeam

NEW DELHI, March 13 Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:38pm IST

Stocks

   
Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

NEW DELHI, March 13 (Reuters) - India's coal imports jumped 20 percent year-on-year in February to 11.6 million tonnes as prices dipped and the rupee strengthened, data from research firm OreTeam showed, indicating that demand remains strong despite a sharp fall in January.

India's reliance on foreign coal has grown over the years as local production has failed to grow in line with demand, making the country the world's third-largest importer of the fuel even as it sits on the fifth-largest reserve.

Imports in the 11 months to end-February rose 15 percent to 143.5 million tonnes, according to OreTeam, which collects data from representatives at ports, mining regions and companies.

The rupee rose 1.5 percent in February, its biggest monthly gain since October, making imports cheaper. The partially convertible currency fell 1.4 percent in January.

"One of the other reasons for the higher import figure in February was an improvement in sentiments on the backdrop of lower coal prices," OreTeam research head Prakash Duvvuri told Reuters.

"Coal from Indonesia has gone cheaper, allowing some importers who were in two minds earlier to pull-in shipments."

Sub-bituminous coal futures in Indonesia, India's biggest supplier with a market share of more than 50 percent, averaged about 3 percent lower at $59.57 per tonne in February month-on-month.

Power generators from India to Southeast Asia and China are building or planning new coal-fired units designed to run on low-rank, sub-bituminous coal from Indonesia. Such coal trades at a discount to bituminous coal from rival supplier Australia.

India's coal-based power generation rose 8 percent to 587.64 billion kilowatt hour during the April-January period from a year earlier, Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said last month.

Though the government does not regularly release data on coal shipments, Scindia said imports by power producers surged 31 percent during the period to 66 million tonnes.

India, Asia's third-largest economy, depends on state-run Coal India for about 80 percent of its output, but the company has fallen short of its targets for the past several years due to difficulties in obtaining environmental approvals, lack of railway access and issues such as employee strikes.

Officers of the company started a three-day strike on Thursday demanding settlement of pay-related issues, in a move that could cut some of its 1.5 million tonnes-per-day output.

Chairman S Narsing Rao told Reuters last month the company expected to produce about 475 million tonnes in the fiscal year ending March 31 and raise it by 30 percent next year. It estimates India's coal shortage would hit 350 million tonnes in 2016-17. (Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

REUTERS SHOWCASE

E-Commerce Boom

E-Commerce Boom

Online grocers come up trumps in India's e-commerce boom   Full Article 

GDP, RBI Preview

GDP, RBI Preview

GDP growth set to weaken, business wants reforms more than rate cut  Read | Related 

Jaitley to Rajan

Jaitley to Rajan

Jaitley likely to meet Rajan on Monday to urge rate cut  Full Article 

Hughes Dies

Hughes Dies

Australia's Phil Hughes dies after being hit by ball  Full Article 

OPEC Meeting

OPEC Meeting

Low expectations for oil output cut  Full Article 

Jamini Roy

Jamini Roy

Photo Gallery – Bengali household name Jamini Roy’s paintings  Full Article 

Google in Europe

Google in Europe

Insight - Behind Google's Europe woes, American accents  Full Article 

India-focused Funds

India-focused Funds

India-focused hedge funds up over 40 pct YTD - HFR  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage