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The oil ministry of India is in favor of the country placing a ban on imports of petroleum coke, the government’s lawyer told the Supreme Court on Monday, as India aims to curb imports of the polluting oil refinery by-product in a bid to fight severe air pollution.
Petroleum coke—or petcoke—is used as a fuel due to its higher energy content than coal. But petcoke is even more polluting and harmful than coal as it releases larger amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide that can cause acid rains or lung diseases.
India, the world’s largest consumer of petcoke, banned at the end of last year the use of petroleum coke in and around the capital New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world.
As many as 14 Indian cities are among the top 20 most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with New Delhi at sixth place globally.
The Indian ban for the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, came into force on November 1, 2017, and the Supreme Court upheld that ban later the same month.
Over the past four years, Indian demand for petroleum coke has almost doubled to exceed 27 million tons.
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In December, India’s Supreme Court allowed the cement industry to use petcoke. Back then, smaller businesses argued that a complete ban would hurt the small and medium-sized enterprises.
At the beginning of this year, the environment ministry imposed restrictions on the use of imported petcoke in the Delhi region, allowing only registered industrial units to use petroleum coke and banned imports for trading purposes in the region in and around the capital.
In May this year, the government was said to be studying the expansion of the New Delhi ban to the whole of the country, only allowing petcoke to be used by the cement and limestone industries, government sources told Reuters at the time.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.