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The force majeure, which was declared on Feb. 2, was initially thought to have a limited impact on coal loadings at the terminal, with sources reporting the current vessel queue as being just a single ship.
However, sources said that given the low stockpiles currently at the terminal, as well as numerous logistical issues caused by the force majeure, a supply shortage could quickly develop.
Stockpiles at RBCT were most recently heard at 2.9 million mt, down from 3.4 million mt at the end of January.
"With falling stockpiles, a bad situation could quickly develop," a South African trader said.
A Singapore-based trader said: "Prices for South African coal will go up inevitably."
FOB Richards Bay export pricing, which had been relaxing from high levels recently, would likely come under upward pressure as a result, sources said, with buyers in key export market India already looking at alternate sources such as Australia in anticipation of a price spike, sources in India said.
Platts FOB Richards Bay 5,500 kcal/kg NAR thermal coal price was assessed at $57.40/mt on Feb. 4, down $2.65 on the day and $6.80 week on week.
Transnet, South Africa's state-owned rail service, declared force majeure at the Richards Bay Terminal following continuous strong winds and heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Eloise, according to a notification from Transnet on Feb. 2.
"Heavy rains and high winds have resulted in slow loading of vessels due to flooded stockpiles, flooded rail lines thus impacting offloading and berthing of vessels being impacted due to high swells and high wind speeds [at the terminal]," the notification said.
Transnet was said to be monitoring the situation in order to minimize any negative effects arising from the force majeure, although no update or timeline for a return to normal services had been provided as of Feb. 4.
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