Oil Companies push LPG in tea production replacing coal
Tea, the green beverage, demands cleanest possible processing. Oil Companies in India are going to take serious steps to replace coal with LPG in tea production that can ensure cleaner processing environment for tea. On the other side, it can open up a large untapped market for LPG. But there are issues to address first for this major shift in processing system to take place.
“Shift to LPG will be a win-win situation for both. White tea is relieved from smoke of coal, we get an unexplored market,” said Dipankar Dey, Executive Director cum State level Coordinator, IOCLNSE -0.52 % (WB). Beside surveying the interest of tea industry, many oil companies including IOCL, have already started planning to produce bulk LPG pack in larger scale to serve tea garden belt in West Bengal that produces around 27% of India’s annual near 1250 Million kg processed tea production.
As estimated, tea sector in Bengal alone consumes around 2.6 lakh tonne of coal and 29.7 crore units of Electricity per annum. Nationally, this turns out to be a consumption of 9.62 lakh ton of coal costing near Rs 1,100 crore and 110 crore units electricity worth Rs 1,250 crore.
In a tea factory, while machinery runs with electricity, heating, drying etc are done with coal. If this coal consumption is converted to LPG, that hosts 2.5 times higher energy factor, the national annual tea sector LPG requirement will be 3.3 lakh ton costing Rs 1452 crore.
“We are trying to figuring out exact size and shape of this potential to tap it,” said Abhijit Dey, Chief General Manager(LPG) of Indian Oil Company Ltd. WB.
“Although little bit costlier than coal, technically LPG is better for tea. Clean fire, immediate heat, instant start up – shut down facility makes it obvious choice over coal,” said tea experts.
While agreeing to that, Chairman of Terai Indian Planters Association Mahendra Bansal said, “Seamless supply has to be ensured first. After expensive alteration in factory to use LPG, we cannot just come back overnight.” Being on the same line of thought, “After shifting from Furnace Oil to coal couple of years back, now we must think deeply before having yet another major shift,” said veteran planter K. K. Mintry.