U.K. Eyes More Russian Coal

Russian coal exporters to Britain, their largest export market, must ensure secure supplies to maintain a share of the British energy market, a British industry official said Monday.

Russia can meet growing demand from expanding coal-fired power capacity in Britain, but buyers concerned about rail links and politics may seek greater diversity in supply, said Nigel Yaxley, managing director of the Association of British Coal Importers.

"Last year, for the first time, coal supply from Russia exceeded supply from British mines and probably accounted for about 15 percent of U.K. electricity supply," Yaxley said.

Russia, the world's third-largest coal exporter and fifth-largest producer, accounted for more than half of the 42,8 million tons of thermal coal imported by Britain last year, he told the Coaltrans conference.

Sergei Romanov, research director at INKRU, the Russian Coal Market Research Institute, said British consumption of Russian coal had risen more than sixfold since 2000.

Yaxley said Britain, with over 11 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity planned, had the potential to increase imports significantly - though whether this capacity is built would depend on prices and European Union emissions directives.

He said there was increasing concern in Britain over safety and social responsibility in Russia's coal sector.

Source: "The Moscow Times",  Tuesday, June 19, 2007