The Coal Trader

city, travel, tourism-7049028.jpg

Taiwan coal market monitors earthquake impact

Taiwan’s power plants and ports halted operations today after a powerful earthquake hit the island’s east coast.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake — the strongest in 25 years — struck eastern Taiwan at about 08:00 local time (00:00 GMT) today. Tsunami warnings were issued in southern Japan and the Philippines, but the latter lifted the alert.

Taiwanese state-owned utility Taipower’s 386MW Tunghsiao gas-fired unit 5 and Taichung coal-fired plant’s 550MW unit 8 and 550MW unit 10 were understood to have gone off line for safety reasons before Tunghsiao unit 5 and Taichung unit 10 resumed operations on reduced output at about noon local time. Taichung unit 8 remains off line at the time of reporting as a result of a “fault”, although its exact nature could not be confirmed. Taiwan runs only two nuclear reactors, and both are operating normally, according to Taipower data.

The port of Mailiao on the island’s west coast briefly paused discharging operations but resumed from 12:00 local time, according to shipbrokers. Market participants reported that operations were also stopped at Ho-Ping port on the east coast. It is understood that, unlike Mailiao, Ho-Ping port remains under suspension.

Mailiao port serves end-users such as Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group, which typically sources mid- to high-calorific-value (high-CV) thermal coal from Australia and Russia. Meanwhile, Ho-Ping port serves the 1.3GW Ho-Ping coal-fired power station run by utility Ho-Ping Power, which is known to procure high-CV coal from Australia, Russia and Indonesia.

Despite Taiwan being a key buyer of Australian coal, the earthquake’s impact on the Australian high-CV coal price is unclear judging by the muted movements of futures. Taiwan imported 29.2mn t of thermal coal from Australia last year, half of the total inflows, customs data show.

Fob Newcastle NAR 6,000 kcal/kg coal swaps traded through the Intercontinental Exchange saw few volumes at the time of reporting, with the third-quarter 2024 contract having traded at $137.50/t, slightly lower than a day earlier.

Argus last assessed high-ash Australian NAR 5,500 kcal/kg thermal coal at $87.48/t fob Newcastle and high-CV Australian NAR 6,000 kcal/kg thermal coal at $127.74/t fob Newcastle on 28 March.

By Deborah Sun

Taiwan Earthquake epicentre

Source: Argus Media