Updates on coal stocks and consumption of China's six major coastal power groups are temporarily suspended, after China Huaneng Group, China Huadian Group and China Datang Corporation were said not to provide such data.
Suspension of the data, which reflect major coastal power plants' coal inventory and consumption, followed the replacement of China Huadian for Guodian Group after the latter stopped providing relevant data in early February. So far, it is unclear how long this could last.
This would, to some extent, weaken participants' understanding of the coastal thermal coal market, although industry insiders already pointed out the weakening importance of the data in recent years.
Growth of power consumption at some coastal provinces has been markedly lower than inland provinces alongside China's economic structure adjustment, they said, noting that coastal region's power usage can't reflect the whole country's power demand.
In recent years, control of coal usage has greatly reduced coal consumption in southeastern China, which now mainly relies on electricity transmitted from other places via ultra-high voltage lines and locally-produced clean energy (hydro, wind, solar and nuclear power).
Growing proportion of electricity transmitted from other provinces has greatly slowed growth of power generation at many coastal provinces relative to the growth in their power consumption.
With decreasing correlation between the six power groups' coal usage and China's total power usage, industry insiders thus think the data itself is losing its significance of reference in economic trend.
However, it is the most timely-updated data on coal demand and stocks among data available for major utilities. There are updates for key nationwide utilities, but they are not clearly defined and also lagging behind.
Data for the original six coastal power groups include a total 88 power plants, with installed capacity combined at 126.17 GW or 7.97% of China's total coal-fired power capacity. Despite its small share in China's total thermal power capacity, the data remains important in reflecting coal demand in coastal region.
The six power groups' coal consumption and stock change miniatures that of nationwide key utilities. It thus helps a lot in helping traders and insiders judge the market, when key utilities data is not timely available.
The six power groups' coal shipment from Bohai-rim ports accounts for around 35% of total coal handling at these ports, while their purchase from these ports reached more than 70% of their coal intakes through seaborne shipment.
So the data could directly reflect coal demand in East and South China regions and even reflect power consumption by industrial and residential sectors in South China, indirectly helping decide the trend of coal prices at ports.
(Writing by Tammy Yang Editing by Harry Huo)
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