Petroleum coke, also known as petcoke, is a solid form of petroleum that can be burned for fuel. Petcoke is created during the refining process when bituminous coal or tar sands are heated at high temperatures to extract oil. Petroleum coke has been used in manufacturing since the late 1800s and it’s an important element in petroleum production because it produces more energy than other fossil fuels.
Top Petroleum Coke Exporters
There are a number of countries that export petroleum coke, but the United States is the largest exporter. The US exported more than 11 million metric tons of petcoke in 2016 and earned over $US600 million from those exports. Canada is the second-largest exporter of petcoke, with almost $US400 million in revenue from exports in 2016. Other countries that export petroleum coke in large quantities include China, Mexico, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia.
Rapidly Increasing Demand Of Petroleum Coke
The demand for petroleum coke is growing as countries look for ways to reduce their reliance on traditional fossil fuels. Petroleum coke is an efficient fuel source that produces less pollution than other fossil fuels. It’s also relatively cheap to produce, which makes it an attractive option for countries that are looking to expand their energy production.
The countries that export the most petroleum coke are well-positioned to benefit from the growing demand for this fuel source. Petroleum coke is a key component in the production of energy, and these countries are poised to take advantage of the increasing demand for renewables.
The Benefits of Using PetCoke in The Oil Industry
Petcoke is the residue of the oil refining process. It retains 95% of Carbon and 5% Sulfur content which is derived from crude oil. As a result, it is useful in the production of hot metal for manufacturing steel, glass, and cement industries. Besides this, it can be used as fuel for power generation and electricity makes.
It is used as a replacement for coal and other solid fuels, because of its high heating value. In the manufacturing of cement, it provides the required heat content that has been missing from coke oven gas. As a result, today more than 60% of Petcoke is being used in cement production.
Petcoke can also be a potential substitute for coal in power generation especially in areas where the cost of transportation of coal is higher than its usage cost. This is because of its high calorific value and low ash content.
Applications Of Petroleum Coke:
Petcoke is a by-product of oil refining. In the past, it was often used as a cheap fuel for power stations and steelworks, but with the discovery of shale gas, its use became less common over recent years. However, there’s been a rise in demand from emerging markets such as China, which has seen its usage on the rise again.
Petcoke is not just used as a fuel source though, with around 37% of it being turned into petroleum coke graphite electrodes in smelters to produce steel. This process only reduces the sulfur content by 50%, so while producing significant quantities of energy and lowering emissions, it also causes high levels of sulfur dioxide.
Environmental Concerns with PetCoke
One of the main issues with petroleum coke is the effect it has on air quality and human health.
High-quality petcoke has a heating value of around 14,000–18,000 BTU per pound, with this figure decreasing to 9,500 for lower quality grades that are on the market. The benefits of using this material over coal is that it has higher fixed carbon content and a significantly reduced Sulphur content (less than 0.1% vs 3%).
This makes it more appealing as an alternative to coal for metal producers but also causes significant environmental concerns, with the main one being that of CO2 emissions. When petcoke is used in blast furnaces or kilns, it causes significant reductions in carbon emissions.
By using 1 ton of petcoke to produce steel, 100kg less CO2 is released into the atmosphere compared to using coal. On top of this petcoke can be 95% carbon allowing for a saving of around 70kg per tons in addition. Much of this benefit comes from the closed-loop system used by the larger steel producers, but for smaller or developing countries this could be a huge benefit.
In A Nutshell:
The demand for petroleum coke is rapidly increasing and many countries are looking to export more of the product. Petroleum coke has a number of benefits in the oil industry, but it also comes with its own environmental concerns that need to be addressed. It’s important you consider all aspects before making your decision about whether or not this potential investment opportunity is right for you.