Imports of coal from North America have risen rapidly in recent times in India, on the back of a regional ban on the use of petroleum coke and a domestic coal shortage, according to recent reports.
Relying on shipping data compiled by Thomson Reuters, it appears that India’s imports of coal from North America have “tripled to 2.1 million tonnes in October from a year ago.”
Notably, though, sources from other trading sources put the figures lower — at 1.47 million tonnes. Additionally, “they said coal imports for November 1–20 have reached 1.14 million tonnes,” whereas the Thomson Reuters data put coal imports to India from North America during the November 1–20 timespan at 1.5 million tonnes.
Reuters provides more: “A ban on the use of petroleum coke, a dirtier but better-burning alternative to coal, is spurring expectations India will buy even more coal from the United States in coming months. Petcoke has been banned in some states around the Indian capital New Delhi which is battling heavy smog.
“But rising pollution in other Indian cities could lead to tougher restrictions such as a nationwide ban on use and imports of petcoke, with environmentalists requesting other states in the country to consider banning the use and import of the dirty fuel.
“’Every cement company is looking for an alternative to petroleum coke, and all of them are scrambling for U.S. coal,’ a senior executive from one of India’s top three cement companies told Reuters.
“… Cement companies account for nearly 75 percent of India’s annual petcoke demand of 27 million tonnes, according to trade data, and small industries such as lime manufacturers are also considering the use of U.S. coal, which is almost as efficient as petcoke.”
Taken altogether, what this news means is that India’s plans to reduce coal imports may end up being derailed (at least partly) by a possible petcoke ban, a band being pursued to help deal with rising air pollution problems. Maybe it’s time to just cut straight through to the end, to much cleaner options.