Mon, January 8, 2018 9:36 am

Last week most of the eastern US was blanketed in new record low temperatures, which combined with heavy snowfall and gusty wind conditions hampered port operations, stopped vessel movements and slowed railway service. Dominion Terminal Associates declared force majeure last Wednesday but was able to continue loading, albeit at a very slow rate. Freezing temperatures also means frozen coal limited dumping activity. DTA did not unload any coal during Monday – Thursday last week, but was able to resume dumping operations with 90 cars (10K tons) dumped Friday and 245 cars (29K tons) dumped Saturday. In addition, by noon last Friday, the Coast Guard at Hampton Roads had removed all restrictions imposed on vessel traffic bound to, from or through the port. Temperatures will quickly return to normal this week, rising even further later as the Norfolk and Hampton Roads areas see rainfall and 50-degree weather on Thursday and Friday as export terminals work to clear the backlog. The short-term disruption has resulted in improved near-term pricing with Inside Coal marking US low vol up $8 from the prior week to $205/MT FOB East Coast and US high vol B up $6 to $141.50/MT FOB East Coast, both the highest levels seen since the post-Cyclone Debbie response in late April/early May; however, buyers are most likely to hold off purchasing until conditions return to normal.