In the intensive process of manufacturing gasoline and diesel from bitumen, between 15 and 30 percent of a barrel of bitumen forms a solid coal-like residual fuel known as petroleum coke (petcoke). Petcoke can be produced from lighter conventional oils but only in very small quantities that are typically consumed within the refinery.
Petcoke is over 90 percent carbon and emits 5 to 10 percent more carbon dioxide (co2) than coal on a per-unit of energy basis when it is burned. As petcoke has high energy content, every ton of petcoke emits between 30 and 80 percent more co2 than coal, depending on the quality of the coal.
The proliferation of tar sands bitumen and heavy oil processing in the United States is turning American refineries into coal factories. Of 134 operating U.S. refineries in 2012, 59 are equipped to produce petcoke including many of the largest refineries in the country.
A very thorough, interesting and eye-opening report here:
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Petcoke: The Hidden Coal In Canada’s Oil Boom
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