Dec. 23 (Platts) -- Vietnam's state-owned coal exporter Vinacomin will cut its annual coal exports to 13.3 million mt in 2012, down 19.6% from 16.8 million mt this year, state-run Vietnam News Agency reported quoting Vinacomin late Thursday.
The company plans to produce 48.9 million mt of coal in 2012, up 2.5% from 2011. It also aims for sales totaling Dong 96.3 trillion ($4.6 billion) in 2012, up slightly from Dong 93.3 trillion this year.
The export cut is in line with what Vinacomin has said earlier. In late November, Chairman Tran Xuan Hoa said annual coal exports would be cut to 13.5 million mt in 2012, 8 million mt in 2013 and between 4 million mt and 5 million mt from 2015.
The main destinations for Vietnamese coal are China, South Korea and Japan.
In the first 11 months of 2011, Vietnam exported 15.86 million mt of coal, down 7.9% from the same period in 2010. About 78.7% or 12.5 million mt were shipped to China. Exports to South Korea and Japan totaled 1.39 mil mt and 1.23 mil mt, respectively, in the period, the customs authority said in December.
As it cuts its coal exports, Vietnam will move from being a net exporter to a net importer by 2015, when many new power, cement and steel plants are due to start operations.
Vietnam's annual imports would reach 5 million mt in 2015 and steadily increase after that, Hoa said.
Japanese conglomerate Marubeni has committed in principle to selling Vinacomin up to 2 million mt of coal from Australia or Indonesia. The volumes are expected to be used by Vietnamese coal-fired power plants that will come online by 2015, a Vinacomin official said in August.
After the imports of 9,575 mt of thermal coal from Indonesia in June, Vinacomin's subsidiary North Eastern Corporation continued to import more, raising the total estimated imports in 2011 to 30,000 mt.
All were sold to customers in the southern region. The company aims to import 50,000-100,000 mt of coal in 2012, Vinacomin said December 15.
But Vinh Nhu, general manager of Vinacomin subsidiary Southern Coal, said Vinacomin's total coal imports in 2011 were much higher than what was published. Total demand in the southern part of Vietnam in 2011 was estimated at 2 million mt of thermal coal, he added. Imports by Vinacomin's subsidiaries in the year accounted for around 10% of the total demand or 200,000 mt, he was quoted as saying early this month.
Additionally, the North Eastern Corporation is also studying opportunities to import coal for coking plants and thermal coal for customers in the northern region in 2012, Vinacomin said.
Coal-fired power plants are expected to consume 67.3 million mt of coal, generating 156 billion kWh or 46.8% of Vietnam's total electricity output, in 2020, according to a national development plan.