Petroleum Sector Current Affairs

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Cabinet approves setting up of Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy at Visakhapatnam

The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh as Institute of National Importance through an Act of Parliament.

The Institute will have the governance structure as well as legal mandate to grant degrees in a manner similar to that enjoyed by Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs).

Key Facts
  • The enactment of separate Act will impart the required status to the IIPE to become a “Centre of Excellence” in petroleum and energy studies.
  • The Cabinet also approved Rs 655.46 crore as capital expenditure to set up IIPE and contribution of Rs 200 crore towards its Endowment Fund (in addition to a contribution of Rs 200 crore from Oil Companies).
  • The objective of setting up IIPE is to meet the quantitative and qualitative gap in the supply of skilled manpower for petroleum sector and promote research activities needed for the growth of the sector.
  • IIPE’s academic and research activities will derive strength from proximity to sector-related activities such as Visakhapatnam refinery, KG-Basin and the planned Petrochemical complex at Kakinada. 
Background

The IIPE will be set up in Andhra Pradesh as per the commitment under the 13 Schedule of Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014.  In this regard, Andhra Pradesh Government has allocated 200 acres of land, free of cost, for setting up the institute at Sabbavaram Mandal in Visakhapatnam district. IIPE has been registered as a Society under the AP Society Registration Act, 2001 in April 2016. Its temporary campus has been set up at the Andhra University Campus for academic session 2016-17 with two undergraduate programmes namely, Petroleum Engineering and Chemical Engineering. The responsibility of mentoring the institute was taken by IIT, Kharagpur.

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Government launches BS-IV grade fuels

Government has formally launched Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) grade transportation fuel across the country to keep carbon emission in check.

The launch came days after the Supreme Court banned sale and registration of BS-III vehicles from 1 April, 2017. It sets target of ushering in BS-VI fuel by April 2020 by skipping BS-V fuel. 

All state-run oil marketing companies will provide BS-IV-compliant fuel at their 53,500 retail fuel stations across the country.

BS-IV fuels
  • BS-IV fuels contain far less sulphur than BS-III fuel. Sulphur in fuel makes it dirtier and lowers the efficiency of catalytic converters, which control emissions.
  • The BS-IV complaint vehicles release less pollutants Carbon Mono-oxide (CO), Hydrocarbon (HC), Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulphur (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) compared to BS III complaint vehicles.

About Bharat stage emission standards

  • BS emission standards are emission standards instituted by the Union Government to regulate output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and spark ignition engines equipment, including motor vehicles.
  • The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change (MoEFCC).
  • The standards, based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000. Since then, various stages Bharat Stage compatible fuel and ungraded and modified vehicles were introduced throughout the country.
  • Each stage specifies a certain limit on the pollutants released, Higher the Bharat Stage goes lesser it emits pollutants. BS-I, BS-II and BS-III stages were launched in  2000, 2005 and 2010 respectively
  • The harmful emissions that are identified for regulations in different Bharat Stages (BS) are carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate matter (PM).

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CCEA approves Policy for Early Monetization of Coal Bed Methane Gas

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Policy for Early Monetization of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Gas Marketing and Pricing Freedom for CBM Gas.

The policy provides marketing and pricing freedom to the CBM Contractors to sell the CBM at Arm’s Length Price in the domestic market. 

Key Facts
  • The policy is expected to incentivize the CBM operation in the country to boost gas production and will generate economic activities.
  • It will in turn be beneficial for creating more employment opportunities in CBM operations and related activities.
  • Under it, contractor while discovering the market price has to ensure a fully transparent and competitive process for sale of CBM at the best possible price without any restrictive commercial practices.
  • It allows contractors to sell the CBM to its any affiliate, in the case it cannot identify any buyer. However, royalty and other dues to the Government will be payable on the basis of Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell (PPAC) notified prices or selling prices, whichever is higher.

About Coal Bed Methane (CBM)

  • CBM is natural gas found in coal seams. It mainly consists of Methane (CH4) with minor amounts of nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and heavier hydrocarbons like ethane (C2H6). It is clean source of energy.
  • During the initial years of mining, CBM was vented out and wasted into the atmosphere as it was considered as serious safety hazard while conducting coal mining operations.
  • However, later with advancement of technology it was possible to extract CBM, a precious energy resource and an unconventional form of natural gas.
Advantages of CBM as a fuel
  • It is environmentally safe and clean fuel which on combustion emits only carbon dioxide and water.
  • It is not only considered as an efficient fuel but also reduces emission of greenhouse gas from coal mining.
  • Its extraction prior to coal mining activities makes mining activities safer by degassing the coal seams.

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