India's big new coal ports surprise

The number of private, fully-mechanised coal ports under construction or expansion in India and their sheer size has taken the international coal market by surprise. "We're going to have to revise our projections for Indian coal imports and look at the impact of the ports being built," John Kearsey, head of research at ship brokers Simon Spence & Young, told The Economic Times.

India will need more imported coal to make up for its domestic shortfall for the next 20 years. In 2010-2011 India will import 81 Mt.

"Indian and Chinese coal demand is a significant driver behind our forecast for dry bulk demand growth over the next few years," said Will Fray, shipping analyst with London-based consultants Maritime Strategies International. "Together we expect them to account for over 50% of global incremental seaborne coal imports over this period."

India is fully geared up to handle its coal import requirements by 2012, said a spokesman for the Adani Group, India's largest coal importers. "Adani Group itself will have fully-mechanised capacity to handle close to 90 Mt of coal at various ports, including its Mundra terminal which will take 60 Mt," the spokesman said.

Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh is one of the new state-of-the art cape ports and will be able to take in more coal than South Africa's total 2009 exports by end-2011. Gangavaram, also on the east coast, is already taking capes and will soon be able to import 35 Mt coal.