Coal Age

JUN 2013

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transport tips continued short tons. When we talk about exports, we have to convert to metric tons, so this becomes about 41,000-65,000 metric tons. Oceangoing vessels used most often in the coal trade are known as Panamax and Capesize vessels. Panamax vessels have a carrying capacity of 60,000-79,999 dwt. Capesize vessels have a carrying capacity of 110,000-199,000 dwt. We need at least one 40-barge tow to fill a typical Panamax vessel, and at least two to fill a typical Capesize vessel. Barges may be loaded at Cora Coal Terminal on the Upper Mississippi River, or at Cook Coal Terminal on the Ohio River, and will travel down the Lower Mississippi River to a coal terminal or a midstream loading facility located in the range between Baton Rouge and Davant, La. (Dash-lined box at bottom of map.) Ocean-going vessels of Panamax class or Capesize class may be loaded anywhere in the Baton Rouge-Davant range because the Lower Mississippi is deep enough to accommodate them. If You Plan to Export Coal You may need to know the basics of ocean shipping. You should know about two classes of bulk carrier: the Panamax and the Capesize vessels. Panamax vessels require a depth of 39.5 ft (fresh water), an air draft (bridge clearance) of 190 ft, and can be no more than 106 ft wide. Capesize vessels are sometimes limited by the depth of the Suez Canal, which is currently 62 ft (salt water). However, as their name implies, they are large bulk carriers that take their name from the routes they must take to bypass the Suez Canal: the Cape of Good Hope off the coast of South Africa or Cape Horn off the coast of South America. The typical deadweight of a Suezmax ship is about 160,000 tons and typically has a beam (width) of 50 m (164.0 ft). Also of note is the maximum head room—"air draft"—limitation of 68 m (223.1 ft), resulting from the 70 m (230 ft) height above water of the Suez Canal Bridge. If you have chartered the vessel and arranged for it to be loaded, make sure it is not too heavy to go through the Suez Canal if it is headed for India. Why? Because the sea distance to Mundra, India, is much shorter, and is therefore much cheaper. For New Orleans to Mundra via Suez, the distance is 9,400 miles, or about 32 sailing days; if we ship around the Cape of Good Hope the distance will be about 12,600 miles, or about 44 days. At a low daily rate of $10,000, you would save $120,000; at a daily rate of $50,000, you would save $600,000. It is well worth your time to tell your shipbroker you would like to ship through Suez if there are no special fees for security along that route. (Pirates, remember?) The Only Thing that Matters Now here is the fascinating fact: The distance from Bellingham to Mundra is about 9,800 nautical miles. In other words, New Orleans can compete with the Pacific Northwest for steam coal headed for northwest India, where large amounts of steam coal are required. Once coal is loaded on a vessel, the only thing that matters is how long it takes the vessel to get there. Ocean shipping is quoted on the basis of daily rates, and there are some customers (e.g., India) for which it really doesn't matter whether the vessel is loaded on the West Coast or the Gulf Coast. If you want to ship PRB coal to India, you can do it right now. Gambrel is the former director of transportation for Peabody Coal Co. (now Peabody Energy). He managed both domestic and export transportation, and was one of the U.S. negotiators for the LAXT Terminal. He may be reached at June 2013 33

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