World’s highest consumer of petroleum coke bans its import

  • India is the biggest consumer of ‘petcoke’ in the world, consuming 27 million annually.
  • Due to the drastic increase in air pollution levels, the government has decided to ban the import of petcoke to be used as fuel.
  • But, there are still domestic producers of petcoke in India like Indian Oil Corp, Reliance Industries and Bharat Petroleum Corp.
India is the largest importer of petroleum coke, consuming nearly 27 million tonnes per year. With an unthreatening name like ‘petcoke’, it’s hard to fathom that burning it as a fuel produces 11% more greenhouse gases than ordinary coal.

That being said, the import of petcoke for use as fuel is being banned nationwide. There are pockets that can still use shipments that are intended to be used as feedstock in other industries. With 14 of the world’s most polluted cities in the world being in India, its a welcome initiative.

The plans to implement such a measure have been in the work since the Supreme Court’s order in October last year that specifically banned the burning of petcoke in the national capital region of New Delhi, the most polluted city in the world according to WHO.

Most of the petcoke comes from the US, where oil refineries can’t find buyers for it back home so they export huge quantities of it overseas instead, to energy-hungry nations like India. Last year, one-fourth of US exports of ‘fuel grade’ petcoke came to India.

All said and done, there’s still a loophole. The ban is specifically on imports. And, while that may solve a great percentage of the problem, there are companies back home who produce it locally like Indian Oil Corp, Reliance Industries and Bharat Petroleum Corp.

What do the numbers say?

According to the Environmental Pollution Control Authority, petcoke produces nearly 17 times more sulfur than the limit that is in place for burning coal. And, in comparison to diesel, it is a whopping 1,380 times worse.

In a country where 1.1 million people die due to ‘outdoor’ air pollution, being the dumping ground for the rest of the world isn’t a strategy that is saving on costs, the environment...or anything for that matter.

India has enough problems with seasonal crop burning exercises and forests of cement, and petcoke is a problem that can easily be negated from the equation. And, it has been, partially anyway. The industries that are still allowed to use the product will be using it in its actual condition. No burning, hence, no pollution in the air.

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