China Thermal Coal at Lowest Price Since 2009; Demand Drops

China’s benchmark price for power-station coal fell for a 12th week to the lowest level since 2009 as electricity demand slowed and hydropower output increased.

Coal with an energy value of 5,500 kilocalories per kilogram at the Chinese port of Qinhuangdao dropped to a range of 620 yuan ($97) to 635 yuan a metric ton as of yesterday, according to the China Coal Transport and Distribution Association today. The midpoint was 0.8 percent less than a week earlier and the lowest price since Oct. 19, 2009, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Electricity output in June stalled from a year earlier as China’s economy expanded in the second quarter at the slowest pace in more than three years. Demand for coal-fired power, accounting for 80 percent of the country’s needs, also fell as dams supplied more electricity amid increased rainfall.

Stockpiles at Qinhuangdao, which delivers half the nation’s seaborne domestic coal supplies, fell 0.9 percent from a week earlier to 8.47 million tons, according to today’s data.

Inventories were above 8 million tons for the ninth week, declining 1.2 percent this month, compared with 11 percent in July 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Port stockpiles typically fluctuate during this time of the year as utilities draw down local supplies and replenish fuel from delivery harbors to meet peak summer power demand.

Water levels for the Yellow River are rising to the highest in decades as China evacuated 40,000 people in the northern provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi, which are in danger of floods, according to official reports over the weekend.

China’s hydropower dams produced 75.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in June, or 19 percent of total power output, compared with 17 percent a year earlier, government data show. Thermal power output was 295.4 billion kilowatt-hours in June, or 75 percent of the total, compared with 79 percent a year earlier, according to the data.

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