The Brazilian government wants to authorize the introduction of biodiesel
fuel on the domestic market by the end of this year. Biodiesel can be added
to mineral diesel at a 2 percent ratio without infringing the warrantee on
diesel vehicle engines. Representatives of the sector met today with President
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to discuss the matter.
The utilization of biodiesel
in Brazil is intended to add a new fuel to the country's energy matrix, on
the basis of self-sustainable projects that take into account price, quality,
assured supply, and a policy of social inclusion.
According to the Minister
of Mines and Energy, Dilma Rousseff, through the National Biodiesel Production
and Use Program the government is developing criteria for the implantation
of social incentive instruments.
The idea is to encourage
the cultivation of castor-oil plants and dendê palms in the poorest
regions of the country. These products are essential to the production of
It is estimated that producing
enough biodiesel to supply the 2 percent mixture can generate over 150 thousand
jobs in 2005, especially in the family farming sector. Biodiesel can also
be used to generate electricity in isolated communities.
The introduction of the
new fuel on the domestic market will reduce diesel imports, which currently
amount to approximately 9 percent. Besides supplying the domestic market,
farther down the road the program envisions exporting the product, which is
already used in the United States and some European countries, such as France
Gas and Oil Up
Petrobras's average production
of petroleum and natural gas in domestic and foreign fields increased 1.7
percent in July, compared with June, and 1 percent, compared with July, 2003.
Overall daily production averaged 2,059,443 barrels last month.
Domestic production totaled
1,792,356 barrels/day, 2 percent more than in June, but stable in comparison
with July, 2003. Domestic
petroleum production alone accounted for 1,520,963 barrels/day, 1.9 percent
more than in June.
The explanation is that
three new wells came on line recently, two in the South Marlin Field and one
in the Bicudo Field, increasing daily production by 37.1 thousand barrels.Despite
the new wells, last month's production fell 1.6 percent short of the figure
for July, 2003.
In the eight foreign countries
in which Petrobras operates, the volume of oil and natural gas produced in
July was 267,087 barrels/day, 0.2 percent less than in June but 9.2 percent
more than in July, 2003.
Consumption of natural
gas rose 26.2 percent in Brazil in the first semester. In June, 37.2 million
cubic meters were consumed, a 3.9 percent increase compared with May.
According to the Brazilian
Association of Piped Gas Distributors (Abegás), the demand in June
was greater in all regions of the country and all consumer segments.
The positive result was
due to the increased output of thermoelectric power plants (which consume
natural gas) in the Northeast, despite the rains that have affected the region
in recent months; low temperatures in the South and Southeast regions; and
increased industrial consumption, reflecting the economic recovery.
In comparison with May,
the drop in temperature raised commercial consumption by 21.6 percent and
residential consumption by 41.1 percent. The industrial sector consumed 1.4
percent more in June, and automotive consumption rose 2.5 percent.
According to the assessment
made by the Executive Secretary of the Abegás, Derly de Oliveira Bittencourt,
the figures show that the piped natural gas industry has been registering
substantial growth in recent years and the energy matrix has been changing.
At the 5th Energy Business
Encounter, August 11, in the capital of São Paulo, entrepreneurs and
representatives of the sector discussed the potential of natural gas as a
cheaper and cleaner energy source.
Bittencourt used the occasion
to reiterate the need to create the so-called "gas law" as a parameter
to regulate taxation, distribution, gas transport, and the final cost to consumers.
Ana Paula Marra works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.