The last time I checked in on that huge deal to ship nine million tons of Kentucky coal to India annually was in July, and at the time, the first shipment still hadn’t left Kentucky.
Now, Tom Loftus of the Courier-Journal is reporting that the deal is still stalled.
[Coal operator Jim] Booth said the holdup with the India deal is that the price of coal on the world market has plunged and the Indian conglomerate has bought coal from other sources, as is allowed in the contract.But the 25-year contract with Abhijeet Group — which essentially sets up a framework for trade — is still in place and has the potential to be as big a deal as originally announced, Booth said.
“I’m glad that we were able to enter into an agreement that got us on first base. We’re there, we’re ready,” he said. “When the market’s right and everything starts to click, we’ll be in the front row.”
State Rep. Keith Hall, a Phelps Democrat credited with helping to bring the deal together by acting as an adviser for a New Jersey-based trading company that linked the sellers to Abhijeet Group, is also optimistic.
“The contract is still in place, still there to be executed at a time when the pricing is better,” Hall said. “I think it can reach the original goal, but it’s probably five to 10 years away.”
Since the deal was announced in August 2012 to much fanfare by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, it’s had its share of problems. A few highlights:
- A month after the deal was announced, a huge scandal rocked the Indian coal industry, and many questioned whether the deal would still be honored.
- Experts I spoke with in 2012 disagreed about whether it would ever make economic sense for India to import huge quantities of coal from Eastern Kentucky.
- And it’s also important to keep in mind that while this trade arrangement has the potential to boost a struggling Eastern Kentucky coal industry, even a deal of this magnitude won’t “save” Appalachian coal.