RP buying Brazil’s ethanol

Published by rudy Date posted on February 5, 2009

The Philippines, aiming to cut its reliance on imported crude, will import ethanol mostly from Brazil, a government official said.

“The major supplier will likely be Brazil,” National Biofuels Board vice chairman Rafael Coscolluela said in a telephone interview. He didn’t say when imports would start.

The Philippines, which imports almost all of its fuel requirements for motor vehicles, will start implementing a law from Feb. 6 requiring all companies, including Petron Corp. and the local units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp., to use 5 percent ethanol in gasoline and 2 percent bio-diesel in regular diesel to help counter a fuel shortage.

The government has said that it needs 184 million liters (48 million gallons) of ethanol for this year’s needs. Countries including the Philippines and the US have mandated the use of bio-ethanol and bio-diesel to stretch supplies of gasoline and diesel and reduce their dependence on imported oil.

Eric Recto, president of Petron, the nation’s biggest refiner, and Chevron’s Philippine unit spokesman Toby Nebrida declined to give forecasts of their company’s ethanol imports. Shell’s local spokesman Roberto Kanapi didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone.

Petron Corp. earlier said it would start selling gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol in all its 1,288 stations nationwide this month, simultaneous with the start of commercial operations of its supplier, San Carlos Bioenergy Corp.

Jose Campos, Petron vice president for sales and marketing, said San Carlos Bioenergy would supply 100 percent of the refiner’s ethanol requirement in time for the implementation of the Biofuels Act.

San Carlos Bioenergy started commercial ethanol production last month and signed an agreement to supply Petron’s entire ethanol requirement.

Petron is also buying part of its ethanol requirements from Leyte Agri Corp.

“I cannot say exactly when the deliveries from SBCI will come in, but it will be here early enough to enable us to meet our requirements by February,” Campos said.

“Well, eventually we might have to import but right now all our requirements can be met by SCBI. So we’re happy we have this partnership with SCBI,” he added.

Energy Department director Mario Marasigan said San Carlos BioEnergy started testing and commissioning the plant in December and expected commercial operations to begin this month.

The plant, located at the San Carlos Agro-Industrial Economic Zone in Negros Occidental, has a fuel ethanol distillery capable of producing 125,000 liters of ethanol per day, or 30 million liters annually, and a co-generation plant with a power capacity of 8 megawatts.

The plant needs approximately 400,000 tons of cane annually—all coming from the 9,000-hectare San Carlos sugar district. Bloomberg and Alena Mae S. Flores, Manila Standard Today

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