China, the world's biggest coal consumer and producer, may increase net imports of the fuel to 174 million metric tons this year to cover a supply shortfall, CCB International Securities Ltd. said in a research note.
The nation may purchase as much as 230 million tons of coal each year between 2011 and 2015 as domestic output growth lags behind demand, CCB analysts led by Karen Li said in the note dated yesterday. Imports may grow 7.7 percent annually in the five-year period, accounting for 5.6 percent of consumption by 2015 from 4.9 percent in 2010, according to the bank.
China bought more coal than it exported for the first time in 2009 when global prices were lower than the cost of domestic grades. Net imports, or overseas purchases minus exports, rose to a record 146 million tons last year from 103 million tons in 2009, according to Chinese customs data.
"Our forecast reveals a potential supply deficit of 190 million to 230 million tons of coal in China lasting from 2011 until 2015," CCB, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Construction Bank, said in the report. "The shortfall would need to be filled by massive coal imports."
The nation may add 600 million tons of new production capacity in the next five years, compared with 850 million tons in the preceding period, according to CCB. Output growth may slow to 3.4 percent annually in the five years through 2015 from 6.8 percent between 2006 and 2010, it said.
The price of power-station coal with an energy value of 5,500 kilocalories per kilogram at Qinhuangdao port, a Chinese benchmark, may average 850 yuan ($129) this year and 900 yuan in 2012, the analysts said.( By bloomberg)