Russia increased coal supplies to Vietnam to 852,000t in January-February from 237,000t a year earlier, according to national government data, amid growing demand from power utilities that cannot be covered by limited domestic supply.
Russia's share of Vietnam's total coal imports increased by 4 percentage points compared with 2018, to 16pc. Australia and Indonesia, major coal suppliers to Vietnam, also posted sharp increases in exports to the country.
The country's total coal receipts reached 5.47mn t in January-February, up from 2.32mn t in the same period last year. Vietnam's demand is expected to increase as new power plants are due to be commissioned in the country over the next few years, market participants say.
State-owned power utility EVN plans to bring several coal-fired facilities on line in 2019-20, while Japanese trading firm Sumitomo has also invested in coal-fired power plants in the country. The Vietnamese government's power industry projection of last year — Master Plan VII — forecast coal demand to exceed 40mn t by 2025 and 75mn t by 2030. Meanwhile, according to forecasts by Vietnamese deputy prime minister Trinh Dinh Dung, coal demand for electricity generation could total 58mn t in 2019, 90mn t in 2025 and 130mn t in 2030.
Last year, imports of Russian coal to Vietnam rose by 19pc on the year to 2.85mn t, according to Vietnamese government data. The largest thermal coal exporters of Russian coal to Vietnam last year were Suek, Kuzbassrazrezugol (Kru), Promugolservis and the Kiyzassky opencast. Most trades were done by Russian producers' trading arms, while some were carried out through Vietnamese trading firms, customs data show.