With the recent rapid surge in the COVID-19 cases, coal demand in India is forecast to slow down in May and June to around 15 million tons (mt) each month, down 22% from the April 2021 level, following an 8.4% month-on-month (m/m) rise in April. In the second quarter of 2021, total seaborne coal imports to India is estimated to be 51.4mt, down 10% quarter on quarter (q/q) and up 23% year on year (y/y), according to IHS Markit’s Commodities at Sea.
As Indian economy was looking to be well on track with vaccination drive until last month, there was a significant increase in electricity demand in the country during March 2021, boosting electricity generation to 131TWh, up 16% m/m and 22% y/y. Coal-based power accounted for almost 80% of the power generation.
However, in the last two and a half weeks, COVID-19 infections have spiked significantly in India from 70,000 a day to more than 300,000 a day. The economy is forecast to be negatively impacted, but the rebound is likely to be much sharper as the nationwide lockdown is not expected to be as severe as last year; the vaccination drive is underway; and local population is now more than willing to have jabs injected.
“Imported coal demand is expected to revive in the third quarter of 2021 on expectation that increased Indian population, which is susceptible to infection, would be vaccinated before the festivities commence in the last quarter.” said Pranay Shukla, Associate Director and Lead Bulk Commodities Analyst, IHS Markit
For the full 2021, India imported coal arrivals forecasted at 229mt with thermal coal and metallurgical coal at 163mt and 66mt, respectively.