India is burning coal in power plants at the fastest pace in 31 years.
At the same time, domestic supplies of natural gas that are the main alternative are falling at the quickest rate in Asia, data from 2012 compiled by BP Plc (BP/) show. Both trends run counter to those in most major economies and give India clout over global coal prices.
India’s growing appetite for imported coal should benefit suppliers in the $69 billion global coal trade such as BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) (BHP) and Indonesia’s PT Adaro Energy (ADRO). India is set to eclipse China as the top importer of power station coal by 2014, as China burned the fuel in 2012 at the slowest pace since 2008, and U.S. demand fell for a second year, according to Energy Aspects Ltd.
“In India, gas is not expected to be a major challenger to coal for power generation any time soon,” Sethia said. “Falling gas production in India makes availability uncertain and mutes the gas play in favor of coal.”