TWO independent oil players are seriously considering putting up their own biofuel plants in the Philippines due to inadequate domestic supply of ethanol.
Independent oil players Jetti Petroleum Inc. and Eastern Petroleum Corp. have expressed interest in developing and building their own biofuel plants.
Leo Bellas, Jetti corporate affairs manager, said they are considering building a plant because current local production cannot meet demand.
Eastern Petroleum chairman Fernando Martinez, meanwhile, said they are revisiting the ethanol project which they have already started but which has been experiencing delays.
“The ethanol may be sugar cane-based because we still import around 60 percent of our requirement,” he said.
A study conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) noted that insufficient local production has prompted oil companies to import their ethanol requirements.
UNCTAD said that around 70 percent of the country’s ethanol requirement is being sourced from abroad. It said that in 2012, the country produced only 85 million liters of ethanol, or merely 30 percent of total local demand.
Under the Biofuels Act of 2006, gasoline and diesel sold at the pumps should be blended with a minimum volume of biofuel sourced from indigenous crops.
However, UNCTAD said that local oil companies have no choice but to continue importing ethanol from other countries just to comply with the government’s 10-percent ethanol blend (E10) requirement.
It added that the Philippines principally relies on Thailand, the country’s biggest supplier, for its ethanol requirements.
Department of Energy (DOE) Director Mario Marasigan also admitted that local production of ethanol continues to be short of the volume needed to comply with the 10-percent ethanol blend for gasoline.
To address the high demand for ethanol, Marasigan said more investments are needed to put up biodiesel plants.
Under the law, oil companies are also required to shift to five percent biodiesel (B5) by 2015 from the existing B2.