Bringing cheers to India’s graphite electrode industry, Indian government has allowed imports of pet coke, used for fuel purpose by graphite electrode industry, said an official notification from DGFT (Directorate General of Foreign Trade).
In Aug’18, the country has banned the import of pet coke for fuel purpose. However, the import was allowed to only four industries so far including cement, lime kiln, calcium carbide and gasification and now the fifth one, graphite electrode industry is added for whom pet coke is freely importable.
India is the world’s biggest consumer of petroleum coke, which is a dark solid carbon material that emits 11% more greenhouse gases than coal.
Needle coke is one of the types of petroleum coke. There is petroleum-based needle coke and coal-based needle coke, and either can be used to produce graphite electrodes. Petroleum-based needle coke is a by-product of the oil refining process, whereas coal-based needle coke is made from coal tar which appears during coke production.
Needle coke is the main raw material used in the graphite electrodes that producers say can take up to six months to make with processes including baking and re-baking to convert the coke into graphite.
As the performance of graphite electrodes depends on the quality of needle coke used, the graphite electrode manufacturers usually use coal-based needle coke to produce high-grade graphite electrodes which are comparatively less polluting.
There are two major players in Indian graphite electrode industry Graphite India and HEG Limited with a capacity of 80,000 tonnes and 98,000 tonnes respectively. The continuity of the ban on pet coke imports in India would have definitely created the shortage of key raw materials for graphite electrodes thus affecting their supplies.