The Beijing ban on Australian coal is reshaping dry bulk trading patterns. Alphabulk reports that Australian coal exports to China slumped 30% last year. The unofficial ban was first detected in June, and became more obvious by September. More than 1,500 seafarers have found themselves caught up in the trade spat, with queues of coal carriers lying off the Chinese coastline unable to offload their cargoes for months on end.
“Seafarers are caught in the middle of a political dispute,” Ben Bailey, director of advocacy and regional engagement at The Mission to Seafarers, told Splash last month.
The Australian port of Gladstone reported a third month of no exports to China in January, marking a complete absence of coal cargoes to the country since October, Alphabulk reported.
Furthermore, no other Australian port recorded significant volumes to China in the month.
Additional purchases by India and Japan from Gladstone offset some of the losses.
While there have been some reports suggesting China will allow more Australian coal cargoes to dock, mapping data from MarineTraffic today shows Bohai Bay is the world’s largest shipping parking lot.
Bohai Bay terminals are where most coal carriers have been held up in recent months. The round circles in the image below indicate anchored ships – a problem exacerbated in recent weeks with growing boxship congestion being recorded at many terminals across the People’s Republic.