Vietnam's coal imports jump to record high as summer comes

By Toan Dao   June 18, 2016 | 07:03 am PT
Vietnam raised its imports of coal to an all-time record high to 1.3 million tons in May, surging 151.8 percent from a year earlier as demand for the fuel rises in the summer month.

Vietnam produced 72.6 billion kWh of electricity in the first five months, going up 12.1 percent year on year. As the electricity demand is expected to rise sharply from June, the Vietnam Electricity (EVN), the country's sole power utility, will increase buying from coal-fired power plants as well as oil-based power units, EVN said earlier this month.

Photo by EVN.

Photo by EVN.

China, which was the key buyer of Vietnamese coal before 2015, exported 137,302 tons of coal to Vietnam in the month, up 86 percent from 73,806 tons on-year, latest data from Vietnam Customs shows.

The other main suppliers in May included Russia with 431,768 tons, up nearly four times year on year; Australia with 364,744 tons, up 230.2 percent from May last year; and Indonesia 307,476 tons, rising 58.3 percent year on year.

During January-May, Vietnam imported 5.99 million tons of coal, more than three times higher year on year, according to the data.

The biggest coal seller to Vietnam in the first five months was Russia with 1.89 million tons, up more than 7 times from 254,097 tons in the first five months of 2015, followed by Australia 1.82 million tons, up 334.2 percent from 418,643 tons in the same period last year; Indonesia 1.11 million tons, up 42.3 percent from January-May last year; and China 978,259 tons, up 381.6 percent year on year.

Meanwhile, Vietnam slashed exports of coal in May, shipping 116,064 tons, down 26.5 percent year on year, mainly to Japan with 28,496 tons, down 50.6 percent on-year.

Its coal exports in the first five months stood at 218,697 tons, falling 75.7 percent year on year, while the largest buyer was the Philippines with 79,000 tons, up nearly 12 percent year on year.

Most of the country's domestic coal production is allocated for local use in power, cement and other industrial sectors.

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