February 17, 2011 / 4:15 PM / in 7 years

Russia coal shipments hit by worst ice since 2003

LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Exports of Russian thermal coal from Baltic ports are facing severe delays due to the worst ice problems since 2003, some of Russia’s biggest exporters and European utilities said on Thursday.

Russia exports around 65 million tonnes of thermal coal a year and is a key supplier to the Atlantic and Pacific markets.

Temperatures had risen during January but have since fallen sharply to below 30 degrees centrigrade at ports such as Ust Luuga near St Petersburg, exporters said.

“This could easily last until early April, it looks as bad as it did in 2003,” one exporter said.

Most utilities are able to cope with weeks of delays to Russian coal but those in Scandinavia have been struggling to find replacement coal urgently and paying high prices for whatever is available, utility sources said.

Reporting by Jackie Cowhig; Editing by Jason Neely

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