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BENGALURU: Halted shipping traffic from the Port of Baltimore, the second-largest US hub for coal exports, will slow the growth in US coal exports and reduce bunker fuel use, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday.

Coal exports from the busy US port have been disrupted following the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge which was struck by a massive cargo ship early Tuesday morning.

“Since the port is a major transit point for freight and bulk vessels, we expect bunker fuel consumption to decrease,” the EIA added. Baltimore handled exports of 28 million short tons last year, making up 28% of total US coal exports and second only to the Hampton Roads port in Norfolk, Virginia, according to census data. “An attractive feature of the Port of Baltimore is its proximity to the northern Appalachia coal fields in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia,” the EIA said.

“Other nearby ports, most notably Hampton Roads, have additional capacity to export coal, although factors including coal quality, pricing, and scheduling will affect how easily companies can switch to exporting from another port.”

About 19 million short tons of the exports in 2023 were steam coal, used to generate power and heat, and the remaining 9 million short tons were metallurgical coal, an ingredient in steelmaking.

India was the top destination for steam coal over the last five years, where the brick manufacturing industry is a major customer, while metallurgical coal went to various Asian countries including Japan, China, and South Korea, the EIA said.

Baltimore also imported 3,000 barrels per day (bpd) of biodiesel in 2023, mostly from Central America and Western Europe, alongside 4,000 bpd of asphalt from Canada and 2,000 bpd of urea ammonium nitrate largely from Russia. More widely used refined oil products are less affected, the EIA noted.

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