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Coal imports by power plants lowest in years.

Date: 02-05-2022
Subject: Coal imports by power plants lowest in years
Coal imports by power plants fell to record low to 24 million tonnes between April-February of last financial year on high prices amid worries of unprecedented power demand and low stock position at power stations.

This is a 43% decline against 42 million tonnes in the corresponding period of FY21, latest commerce ministry data showed. The imports are 63% lower than Apr-Feb FY20 at 65 million tonnes. Imports by power plants in 2016-17 were 66 million tonnes.

The imports are lower even than Covid-affected period when power demand registered a major decline, putting pressure on domestic output that is preventing inventory building.

Depleting coal stock at power stations is a major concern amid record electricity consumption in the country. Data available with the Central Electricity Authority showed coal inventory of 21.4 million tonnes at power stations down from 25 million tonnes on April 1. Peak power demand touched 201 Gw on Tuesday. This is the first time the country reported such high demand in the month of April.

A senior government official said “Between FY20 (pre-Covid period) and FY22, both Feb-end data, thermal coal imports for blending decreased by 15 million tonnes, while the decline by imported coal based plants has been 25 MT,” he said. According to sources, 70 million tonnes of coal stock is available with Coal India mines, captive mines and railway sidings but there is inadequate rail capacity.

Imported coal prices are hovering at record levels. The price of non-coking coal (HBA index) for the month of April is $288 per tonne against $50 per tonne in April last year.

The union power ministry has asked state power generating companies to import 10% of coal requirement for blending purposes. It has asked private power companies to import 4% of their requirement.

However due to high prices, the imports for blending purposes dropped by 25% to 7.1 million tonnes in the 11 months from 9.6 million tonnes corresponding period a year ago. The imports for blending purpose by power plants decreased by 68% over Apr-Feb of FY20.

Coking coal imports by non-regulated sectors like steel grew 14.30% to 52 million tonnes despite a rise in prices.

The total coal imports fell 5% to 187 million tonnes in April-Feb FY22 against 196 million tonnes a year ago.

Source Name:-Economic Times

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