India is expected to face a wider coal shortage during the quarter ending September over expectations of higher power demand, an internal power ministry presentation seen by Reuters showed, worsening risks of widespread power outages.
The energy-hungry nation expects local coal supply to fall 42.5 million tonnes short of demand in the September quarter, 15% higher than previously projected, due to higher growth in power demand and lower output from some mines.
The grim forecast shows the extent of the fuel shortage in India, at a time when annual power demand is seen growing at the fastest rate in at least 38 years and global coal prices are trading at near-record levels due to a supply crunch resulting from the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
India has stepped up pressure on utilities to increase imports in recent days, warning of cuts to supply of domestically mined coal if power plants do not build up coal inventories through imports.
However, one of the slides in the presentation showed that most states had yet to award contracts to import coal and that Indian utilities would run out of coal by July if no coal was imported.
Only one state had awarded a contract to import coal as of end-April, a power ministry import status report reviewed by Reuters showed.
India expects domestic coal supply of 154.7 million tonnes, 42.5 million tonnes short of the projected requirement of 197.3 million tonnes in the September quarter, the presentation showed. It previously expected a shortage of 37 million tonnes.
The presentation was made on Friday in a virtual meeting in which the federal coal and power ministers were present, with top energy officials from the federal government and the states in attendance, according to two government officials familiar with the matter.