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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RZD Lifts Bans on Coal Shipments

LONDON -- Russian Railways, or RZD, this week lifted a series of temporary bans on the rail transport of coal to Baltic and Russian ports because the severe congestion of rail cars on lines leading to the ports has now eased, Russian coal exporters said.

The temporary bans were imposed from the first week of February at some ports and extended several days at a time until this week, they said.

Around 900,000 tons of export coal has been lost as a result, exporters said. It will be impossible to catch up with this lost export tonnage during the balance of the year because shipping schedules are extremely tight, they said.

One major exporter said his company has been forced to delay shipments in the third quarter and the fourth quarter to European customers because the recent rail ban had a knock-on effect on an already full shipping program.

RZD halted the rail transport of coal to the ports because coal cargoes had been arriving frozen in wagons, making them difficult to discharge until they were thawed.

Far fewer rail cargoes are arriving frozen now, exporters said, because temperatures have risen and are forecast to remain stable until the spring.

Although the rail bans have been lifted, exporters said this did not mean that there was more Russian coal available to the market.

They said they had no spot coal available until the second half of the year at the earliest.