Indian Coal Production, Dispatch, Stocks & Consumption – January 2020 Update

The combined production of Coal India and SCCL recovered in December, reaching a combined 64 MT, after three consecutive years in which December’s output had been 60 MT. Dispatch also increased, but to levels similar to those of the last two years. (Dispatch to the power and other sectors lags by one month, data in chart is up to November).

The 12-month moving averages show that both production and dispatch have begun their recovery after four months of decline, and that for the first time in two years, production is keeping pace with dispatch, which may translate to increasing pithead stockpiles.

After a a period of rapid re-stocking of power plants, the turn of the year saw this level off substantially, at over 30 MT. The annual high has been reached in March each year for at least the last six years. Will stock levels start rising again and repeat this pattern? And, if so, at what level will they likely peak? IPR expects a further increase is likely by March because thermal generation has not quite recovered, but the peak is harder to predict.

The re-stocking rate (shown below with a 21-day moving average for smoothing) is well past its (record high) peak, but previous years all show two or more such peaks before consumption overtakes supply.

With a few exceptions, very few power plants have critically low levels. Paradoxically, there has been a slight increase in a period when the total power plant stocks were rising rapidly. This suggests some specific distribution anomalies.

Overall, the most notable feature of coal stocks is that here is now clearly more coal at the power plants than at the CIL and SCCL pitheads, for the first time in this data series.

Coal consumption by power stations continued its recent decline, with three months in a row at about 47 MT.

When averaged over 12 months, this decline is quite striking, especially in comparison to the average rate for the two years to July 2019 (dashed blue line). This seasonally averaged rate hasn’t been as low for the last 15 months.

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