Press digest

2018 November 21

Russia’s coal exports via Riga rise 15% in Jan-Oct

Russian coal exports to Europe via Latvia’s key port of Riga rose by 15% in the first 10 months of the year to 11.6m tonnes, amid restricted domestic Russian port capacity, port data showed on Tuesday.

Exports averaged 38,000t/day over the period compared with 33,000t/day in January-October 2017, despite an unofficial government clamp-down on exports via Latvia.

Russia has stepped up exports though Latvia due to a lack of available capacity at its largest European export terminal in Ust-Luga, near St Petersburg. Maintenance upgrades at the terminal have seen Ust-Luga’s loadings fall 17% in the first 10 months to 16.9m tonnes.

"Russian shippers have been pushing real hard to export, so the government allows it [via Riga] for now," said a Russian coal trader.

But one Polish coal trader said Riga loadings could still fall to zero by 2020.

Montel reported earlier this year the Russian government had taken steps to block rail shipments via Riga – one of northern Europe’s main coal export terminals – in retaliation for the Baltic country opposing the Russia-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

Russia’s planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline will follow the track of an existing subsea pipe to Germany, doubling annual capacity to 110bcm. Yet some EU nations, particularly those that had been part of the former Soviet Union, oppose the project.