Indian companies are importing significant volumes of petroleum coke from Venezuela for the first time, trade sources and shipping data show, as the OPEC nation boosts exports not specifically targeted by U.S. sanctions.
By Reuters – Sudarshan Varadhan and Marianna Parraga
Aug 16, 2022
India’s growing appetite for Venezuela’s petcoke – a byproduct from oil upgrading and an alternative to coal – is being driven by a scramble for inexpensive fuel to power industries as global coal prices have surged.
This could boost cash flow for the South American producer, where state and private companies have increased exports of petrochemicals and oil byproducts, and the more competitively-priced Venezuelan supplies could displace cargoes from traditional suppliers.
Indian cement companies imported at least four cargoes carrying 160,000 tonnes of petroleum coke from April to June, according to three trade sources, Refinitiv shiptracking data and Venezuelan shipping schedules.
Another 50,000-tonne cargo is expected to reach the port of Mangalore on India’s south western coast in the coming days while a 30,000-tonne shipment is scheduled to depart later in August, the data showed.
India, which counts the United States and Saudi Arabia as major petcoke suppliers, received its first ever cargo from Venezuela in the beginning of 2022, according to two of the sources and the documents.
A surge in global coal prices to record highs since the Russia-Ukraine war has pushed Indian cement makers including JSW Cement, Ramco Cements Ltd (TRCE.NS) and Orient Cement Ltd (ORCE.NS) to import petcoke from Venezuela, trade sources said.
“The quality of petcoke is very good and it has very low sulphur,” Ramco Cements Chief Financial Officer S. Vaithiyanathan said, adding the downside is that the cargoes take nearly 50 days to arrive in India.
Ramco Cements booked two 50,000-tonne cargoes of Venezuelan petcoke, which were delivered in June and July at a discount of $15-20 per tonne to the market price, Vaithiyanathan said.
Ramco paid $214.40 and $221 per tonne for the June and July cargoes, respectively, while Orient imported about 28,300 tonnes in April for $220 per tonne, Indian customs documents reviewed by Reuters showed.
JSW Cement imported over 30,000 tonnes in June, according to two trade sources, ship tracking data and customs documents.
JSW Cement and Orient did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
The petcoke cargoes were shipped in April-June by Shimsupa GmBH, a Germany-headquartered scrap trading firm, which has an exclusive arrangement with Switzerland-based Maroil Trading to supply Venezuelan petcoke to India, China, Pakistan and Turkey.