07-01-2022 Indonesian coal shortage ‘over’ but no end to export ban yet, By Holly Birkett, TradeWinds
Indonesian officials have said the country has enough coal to satisfy its domestic shortage, but there is no further clarity on whether the ban on exports will be continued. A senior cabinet minister told local media on Friday that Indonesia’s power crisis is over, and that the government is reviewing a new strategy for its mandatory domestic sales policy for coal, according to Reuters reports. Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs, met with coal miners and other authorities on Thursday. “The discussions were split into two, the (coal supply) fulfillment now and a permanent solution. For now, the emergency is over,” Luhut told CNBC Indonesia and local media, quoted by Reuters.
The maritime ministry will review the formula for the so-called domestic market obligation and will aim to come to a decision the same day, he added. Luhut did not disclose further details on the new formula or whether the export ban would be lifted or eased. Indonesia’s domestic market obligation requires miners to sell 25% of their production to local power companies at a maximum price of $70 per tonne.
Coal exports from Indonesia were suspended for a month by the government on 1 January, after the country’s state power utility reported dangerously low inventory levels of coal, risking widespread power outages. An agreement was reached on Tuesday between producers and state-owned utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to supply an extra 7.5 MMT of coal to help avert power outages and boost stockpiles. PLN had previously said it needed 5.1 MMT of additional supply for January to avoid power cuts. Indonesian Coal Mining Association executive director Hendra Sinadia said on Wednesday that while producers are willing and able to supply the necessary coal to PLN, the main obstacle is the availability of vessels to transport it. Under national cabotage laws, cargoes would have to be shipped on Indonesia-flag vessels.
On Thursday, Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s administration revoked 2,078 permits for mining, mineral and coal businesses, stating the firms failed to provide work plans, misused the permits, or transferred them to other parties.
Meanwhile, around 145 bulk carriers — mainly supramax and panamax vessels — are still in limbo in Indonesia, according to a port positioning list released by Indonesian shipping agents on Wednesday. Some were already fully loaded, ready to sail, but were denied sailing permits. Others were partly loaded or waiting to load. A further 36 bulkers fixed to load Indonesian coal were scheduled to arrive between 6 January and 10 January. The export ban will have a negative impact on bulker markets if it lasts until the end of January and is applied across all exports, analysts told TradeWinds this week. But most researchers doubt the ban will be continued until the month’s end.
Indonesia is the world’s biggest thermal coal exporter. It accounted for one-third of total seaborne coal volumes during 2021, according to research by Braemar ACM Shipbroking. It also accounted for 65% of China’s coal imports, up from 51% in 2019, due to the Chinese ban on Australian volumes in late 2020.