China Zhejiang Province has turned to Kazakhstan for thermal coal for the first time. The power crunch province has imported 136,000 tonnes of premium coal from the landlocked country in a shipment whose oceangoing leg involved a capesize bulker that took 30-day voyage.

According to local news reports, Zheneng Fuxing Fuel has brought in its first shipment of high-grade thermal coal from Kazakhstan amid a nation-wide coal shortage and record coal prices. The company is the shipping arm of Zhejiang Provincial Energy Group, which is controlled by the provincial government.

Zheneng Fuxing has fixed the 178,006-dwt Caro (built 2010) to ship the thermal coal from Russia’s Port Kavkaz on the Black Sea to the Liuheng coal terminal in Zhejiang province. According to Clarksons’ database, Caro is owned by Orion Reederei of Germany.

A Chinese dry bulk shipping source said eastern China usually imports coal from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Australia. It has never shipped coal from the landlocked Kazakhstan, as it is not economically efficient since the cargo must be transported by rail to a loading port in Russia before sailing to China. The shipping source believes Zheneng Fuxing has worked out its math and found it more attractive to import coal from Kazakhstan in this instance, while China’s is facing an energy crisis.

“China is already buying coal from the US but the voyage is much longer than that of Kazakhstan,” said the Chinese shipping source. “The coal from the Central Asia nation is also of better grade.”

China is facing a power outage due to shortage of coal supplies, tougher emission standards and strong demand from manufacturers and heavy industries.

Beijing has refused to buy Australian coal, driving up its energy costs. The price of coal has shot up by more than threefold from less than $60 per tonne early this year to more than $200 per tonne today.

The country is also said to have shut down several coal-fired power plants in a move to cut down emissions.