Eastern Renewables eye P1.8 B ethanol plant

Its president and chief executive officer, Fernando Martinez said on Thursday that the proposed ethanol plant would be capable of producing at least 200,000 liters of ethanol fuel a day.

“Eastern Renewables Fuel Corporation is looking forward at becoming a major producer of ethanol fuel,” Martinez said. He added that his company already signed a  memorandum of agreement with Junaxi State Farm in mainland China for possible joint venture undertaking.

Martinez, who also heads the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association, said that when the Biofuel Act becomes mandatory by 2009, “the country would need at least 300 million liters of ethanol fuel every year”.

Ethanol fuel is derived from agricultural crops such as coconut, sugar cane and cassava.

Eastern Renewables has started financing cassava plantations in the South Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City (Socsksargen) area. Martinez said, however, that they need at least 12,000 hectares of cassava plantation to put up a processing plant.

The company entered into growership contract with local farmers here last July and already has 2,000 hectares ready for harvest in the first quarter next year. The cassava tubers would be exported to China for processing into ethanol fuel.

Martinez said ethanol would reduce the country’s dependence on petroleum products and help save foreign exchange reserves.

The country consumes more than four billion liters of petroleum products every year.

“Ethanol is also cheaper,” the Eastern Renewable president said.

Crude oil is now pegged at $96 per barrel while ethanol costs only $60 dollars per barrel.

A barrel of crude oil is equivalent to 159 liters. (Edwin G. Espejo / MindaNews contributor)