BIO-ENERGY  PLANS  TO  INVEST  $300-M  ON  BIODIESEL  PROJECT  IN  RP

MANILA, DECEMBER 25, 2006
(STAR) By Donnabelle L. Gatdula - Bio-Energy NL Inc., owned by a group of Filipino businessmen, is planning to invest up to $300 million (roughly P15 billion) for an intensive biodiesel project in the Philippines.

Industry sources told The STAR that Bio-Energy had requested the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to fund the project.

JBIC director for policy and strategy coordination division Kazuhiko Amakawa, in a letter to Bio-Energy president Arnold Caoili, said that the multilateral institution has approved the company’s request to fund the feasibility study for the multi-million dollar biodiesel project.

"Future economic interchanges between the Philippines and Japan will be enhanced by this study," Amakawa said.

The feasibility study on the proposed biodiesel project is seen to be completed by August 2007 or after six months.

If the feasibility study shows positive results, the project proponents will start planting coconut and construct a biodiesel refinery in Northern Luzon.

The coconut plantation is seen to involve 500,000 hectares idle land and the refinery is expected to have a capacity of 300 million liters a year. It would take three years to construct the so-called integrated coconut crushing/refinery plant. Fruit bearing for the coconut plantation is expected within four years.

According to sources, Bio-Energy has considered Northern Luzon as a potential site for the project since this will serve as a better alternative livelihood and a new product for the said province.

"This will be a new product for the province since the tobacco industry is dwindling. They will plant new coconut trees so that it would not compete with the local coconut producers. One of the requirements of the Ministry of Environment of Japan is for the plant owners not to get from existing trees but plant new ones," the sources said.

The sources said the produce from the biodiesel processing plant will be exported to Japan.

"The capacity of the new plant will serve a little over 10 percent of the five percent biodiesel demand of Japan (2.5 billion liters)," the sources said.

The five percent annual demand for biodiesel for Tokyo metropolitan alone is estimated to reach 300 million to 400 million liters.

Consistent with the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, the Japanese government mandates for the use of a five percent blend of biodiesel by March 2007. This biodiesel blend is seen to increase to 20 percent in 2020.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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