Indonesia Stops Sending Coal To China

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In these days of countries trying to do away with dirty fuels, spare a thought for this.

In October last year, Bloomberg reported the China had loosened the restrictions on imports to tackle its power crisis and that Indonesia supplies about two-thirds of China’s total imports and is China’s biggest overseas supplier, supplying 17 million tons of coal in August, and 21 million tons in September.

And now as the new year of 2022 comes in, Reuters reported that Indonesia, whose biggest customers for its coal are China, India, Japan and South Korea, has banned coal exports until it has evaluated whether it has enough for its own needs.

For comparison between China, Japan, and Korea, these are figure I have been able to pull out.

  • In 2019, coal made up 58 percent of China’s energy use.
  • In 2017, coal made up 24 percent of Japan’s energy use.
  • In 2021, coal made up 28 percent of Korea’s energy use.

Plainly, of the three, China needs coal like no other country – whether supplied by Indonesia or from elsewhere.

Indonesia has a population of over 275 million, so its own needs are not insignificant on a world scale.

The USA has a population of 332 million, to give you a comparison.

And The Russian Federation that has a population of just 146 million.

Indonesia is going to look at how its reserves are coping at the end of January and then decide what to do next to make sure it can plan for enough reserves through to the end of 2022.

I didn’t include India in the listing – my oversight. The figures is 56 percent, but India has its own state-owned Coal India Ltd, which supplied 38 million tonnes in August 2021. So while it imports from Indonesia, I don’t know how ultimately reliant India is on imports.

Imagine

If we could fast forward to 2042, imagine if China had no coal and no way of making up the shortfall from other kinds of fuels. Indonesia is about 7,000 miles as the crow flies from Mainland China, so a task force to capture coal would stick out like a sore thumb. But China would be fighting for its life, so who knows. Pray that it doesn’t come to that.