Petcoke Ban Issue

Petcoke

  • It is one of the many industrial by products produced during oil refining.
  • It is categorized as bottom of the barrel fuel as it is a residual waste material which is obtained after refining crude oil to extract lighter fuels like petrol.
  • It is used as a source of energy and carbon for various industrial applications.
  • It is abundantly used in India in several manufacturing industries such as cement, steel and textile as it is significantly cheaper that coal, has high calorific value and is easier to transport and store.
  • There are two kinds of pet coke produced viz. Fuel grade pet coke (80%) and calcined pet coke (20%) during oil refining.

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Pet Coke in India:

  • India is the world’s biggest consumer of petcoke.
  • It gets over half its annual petcoke imports of around 27 million tonnes from United States.
  • Local producers include Indian Oil Corp, Reliance Industries and Bharat Petroleum Corp.  
  • Cement companies in India account for about three-fourths of country’s petcoke use.
  • Usage of pet coke in energy-hungry India recently had come under scrutiny due to rising pollution levels in major cities.

 

Hazards of Pet Coke

  • Petcoke is much more potent pollutant than coal and causes greater harm to the environment and health.
  • It contains whopping 74,000 PPM of sulphur content which is released into atmosphere as emissions which is much higher than vehicular emissions.
  • It is also source of fine dust, which can get through filtering process of human airway and lodge in lungs which can cause serious health problems.
  • Apart from sulphur, petcoke also releases cocktail of other toxic gases after burning such as nitrous oxide, mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, hydrogen chloride and greenhouse gases (GHG) which contribute to global warming.

 

Court Observations

  • The court has been urging the government since December 2017 to move forward towards a nationwide ban on the use of petcoke and furnace oil to power up industries, in a bid to fight pollution.
  • The court had by then, in October 2017, already ordered a ban on the industrial use of petcoke and furnace oil in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
  • The ban on use came after an EPCA Report, including the ban on sale, distribution and use of furnace oil and petcoke in the NCR. Their use is already prohibited in Delhi.
  • Pursuant to the Supreme Court ban, both the Environment Ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board had brought into immediate effect a prohibition on the use of petcoke and furnace oil by any industry, operation or processes within the States of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan until further orders.
  • The court had even highlighted how petcoke is being imported from countries like the United States and China, which have already stopped using them after due consideration of its harmful effects on human beings and environment.

 

Import Ban on Pet coke:

Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) under Ministry of Commerce and Industry has banned import of pet coke for use as fuel. But it has allowed its import of only for use as feedstock in some select industries such as cement, lime kiln, calcium carbide and gasification industries.