Coal imports by power plants in India fell 22 per cent in April 2018

Coal imports by power utilities fell by 22.23 per cent to 3.73 million tonnes in April 2018, mainly due to decline in shipments by imported coal-based power projects in the country.

According to latest data compiled by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), coal imports by the power utilities came down to 3.731 million tonnes in April this year from 4.798 MT in April 2017 mainly due to lower deliveries at imported coal based plants.

In April 2018, however, the total coal imports by power utilities for blending with domestic coal rose to 1.427 MT from 1.078 MT in April last year.

The scope of reducing coal import is always more at power plants using domestic coal as they use high gross calorific value imported fuel for blending. The data shows that the coal imports came down by imported coal based power plants in April this year. These plants imported 2.304 MT of coal in April 2018 down from 3.720 MT in the same month a year ago.

Experts think that higher international coal prices may have been affecting imports by the power plants based on imported coal.

Coal imports by power utilities in January, February and March this year stood at 4.339 million tonnes, 4.060 million tonnes, 4.396 million tonnes respectively, which indicates a good start in April this year.

The government expects total domestic coal production to grow in the range of 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent (705 to 712) MT for financial year 2018-19. The government has stressed that there is an immediate requirement to auction private coal blocks of coking and steam coal for 50 million tonnes per annum, in order to control import of steam and coking coal. Power plants import steam coal.

Total import of coal including coking coal and steam coal could reach 245 million tonnes if the government approves an order to ban use of pet coke, which is a feedstock in cement industry. Additional 35 to 40 million tonnes of imported steam coal would be required to compensate for the pet coke ban.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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