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A week in coal: 8 August 2014

World Coal,

The recent rise in natural gas availability made the headlines this week, as a new report from Frost & Sullivan indicated that gas turbines were set to edge ahead of steam turbines. As the market changes, the report forecasts that small- and medium-sized steam turbine output ranges will outstrip larger ranges as smaller units will have better financing prospects.

One industry player likely to be keeping a keen eye on turbine market developments is Siemens Energy, as the company delivers steam turbine-generator sets to India. The machines, along with associated instrumentation and control components, are destined for the coal-fired units of the North Karanpura Super Thermal Power Project, located in the Indian state of Jharkhand, and for IB Thermal Power Station Banharpalli in the neighbouring state of Odisha. Together, the turbine generators will deliver a combined installed electrical generating capacity of over 3300 MW.

From India to Australia, where Indian firm Adani was last week buoyed by news its Carmichael coal mine had received approval from the Australian environment minister, Greg Hunt. The Queensland coal mine – set to become the largest in Australia – will find its coal used both in Australia and abroad. Vital to the transport of this coal, therefore, will be news that Pacific National has added five new generation locomotives to its coal haulage fleet. The rail firm announced that the 88 Class engines would be used across the company’s Queensland coal operations and rail network. Coal transport infrastructure in Queensland is currently undergoing expansion, as the state expects to export over 300 million tpa of coal by 2022. 

Also in Australia came two key reports this week, highlighting both the environmental and economic benefits of coalbed methane (CBM), which is becoming increasingly vital to the country’s gas supplies. A report from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), found greenhouse gas emissions from Australian coal seam gas (CSG) production wells to be very low, while a report from ACIL Allen suggested 16 000 jobs could be created by investment in the growing industry, while wholesale prices of gas could also be driven down by 12% in New South Wales.

Finally, huge volumes of coal continue to be handled at ports and terminals worldwide, as the global oversupply of the black stuff shows no sign of abating. This week, the Rhenus Midgard Terminal Wilhelmshaven at the port of Hamburg handled over half a million t in July – the highest figure for one month at the long-standing bulk handling centre. 

Written by Sam Dodson

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