5-percent biodiesel blend to start in October

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) expects to start by October this year the implementation of the increased minimum blend in oil products, from the current 2 percent (B2) to 5 percent (B5).

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In an interview on the sidelines of the 27th National Coconut Week, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the National Biofuels Board is finalizing all data from road testing and public consultations on the increased use of coconut oil in biofuel mix.

“We are just waiting for the final decision of the National Biofuels Board [NBB], particularly on the results of the test of the B5 to vehicles. We are confident that we can start implementation by October,” Alcala said.

He also expressed confidence that the road testing for B5 will yield positive results, noting that there have been previous studies showing that the increase mix in biofuel has no negative effects on a vehicle’s engine.

In 1983, the DA-Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) spearheaded scientific studies on the use of coco biodiesel as fuel, in coordination with the Industrial Technology Development Institute, Philippine National Oil Co., National Power Corp. and the Department of Science and Technology.

In May 2001, the Department of Agriculture and the PCA launched a Biodiesel Development Project that tested the viability of coconut biodiesel as engine fuel. Test results showed approximately 50-percent reduction on smoke emissions.

Alcala noted that the NBB, which has closed the final leg of the public consultations this month, would meet on September 10 to finalize all data collected.

Besides road testing and public consultation, the NBB is also waiting for the result of the study being conducted by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) on the possible impact of price spike on diesel prices. NEDA has yet to complete the study.

The Biofuels Act of 2006 mandates the minimum blend of biodiesel sourced from coconut or coconut methyl ester in all diesel products, and the gradual increase of the alternative fuel mix over time.

Based on the Department of Energy’s road map, the implementation of B5 is scheduled for 2015.

The agriculture department is pushing hard to hike the use of coconut oil in biofuel mix to ease effects of production surplus, which depressed copra and coconut oil prices in the world market.

“We want it to be implemented earlier. Instead of importing more than P13-billion worth of diesel, we want to replace the volume with coco methyl, which would benefit our coconut farmers,” Alcala said.

Meanwhile, PCA Deputy Administrator Carlos Carpio said that from the time the Biofuels Law was implemented in 2007, the blend has remained at B2.

However, he said that B2 blend has brought many benefits to the coconut industry, as well as the entire country.

“Since the implementation of B2, we have guaranteed domestic market for coconut worth P7.978 billion, and fuel displacement or country saving of P6.19 billion annually,” he said.

Carpio said that it was calculated that from B2, the indicative benefits and inclusive growth of the coconut industry, as well as the entire country, would increase by 150 percent once B5 mix is fully implemented.

“From P7.97-billion guaranteed domestic market, it will increase to about P19.94 billion, and the country can save at least P15.48 billion from the current P6.2 billion,” he said.

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