A recent Argus report noted that US coke exports to most countries slipped in 2016, despite an almost 8% rise in total shipments, as a surge in Indian demand absorbed the majority of US supply. US coke exports to India jumped to 8.65 million tons (mt) in 2016 from 4.77 mn t in 2015, an 81% increase and a record annual total to a single country. This was 24% higher than the previous record of 6.97 mn t shipped to China in 2013, according to US Census data.
The Argus report noted that China was once the largest importer of US coke, with its demand peaking in 2013 at almost 7 mn t. The report also noted that Chinese demand has been falling since then, as slower industrial demand and rising concerns over sulfur emissions reduce interest in US coke. Besides India, Japan, Turkey and Mexico all purchased more US coke than China in 2016.
Annual US refinery coke production capacity over the past five years has increased as more refineries completed coking capacity upgrades. One of the recent projects includes the coker replacement project (CRP) at the 339,000 bpd Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend LLC refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota. The CRP includes replacing two older, less efficient delayed coking units as well as the refinery’s largest nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitting heaters with one delayed coker and a single, more efficient heater to reduce overall NOx emissions at the site by more than 350 tonnes/year.