The executive secretary of the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, Maria
das Graças Foster, reports that in November Brazil will begin adding
2 percent biodiesel to diesel fuel, making it another source in Brazil's energy
Foster declared that the
government is aware of the importance of petroleum and gas as an energy source,
and in the provenience of taxes and income at the federal, state and municipal
But she pointed out that
the supply situation today is extremely worrisome, even though Brazil should
be self-sufficient in petroleum by the year 2006.
"Compared to the
last petroleum crisis, in 1990, today the situation is much more delicate.
In 1990, the difference between demand and supply was running at around 10
percent. Today it hovers at 3 percent.
"What that means
is that we have world demand at around 78 million barrels per day, while the
available supply is only 80 million barrels per day. That is a very tight
fit," she declared.
Today developed nations
are working on diversifying 10 percent to 20 percent of their energy sources,
says Foster, while Brazil already has a much more diversified scheme: 41 percent
of Brazil's energy sources are renewable (14 percent is hydro and 27 percent
is biomass, with sugarcane growing fast). Petroleum provides 43 percent and
natural gas 7.6 percent.
Foster also says that
the Brazilian government is hard at work to transform the country into a significant
exporter of its sugarcane-based fuel, which is actually a form of ethanol,
but is called alcohol in Brazil. At the same time an effort is being made
to increase the domestic use of the product, she reports.
"At the last world
conference on petroleum, which took place in Germany, it was clear that our
sugarcane-based fuel is an attractive trade product for Brazil. The country
is seen as a supplier, a big potential exporter, one that is preferred by
large nations who face the task of diversifying their energy sources,"
Brazil and US
Last April, Minister of
Mines and Energy, Dilma Rousseff, and Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso
Amorim, met with the US secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham in Brasília.
At that time Brazil talked
about its interest in using sugarcane-based ethanol to generate electricity
and discussed a bilateral cooperation agreement with Abraham for studies on
the development of not only ethanol and biomass fuels, but a hydrogen fuel.
"We would like to
have a workshop this year on biomass with the Americans," said Rousseff,
adding that, "The long-term goal is to develop a hydrogen fuel because
it is the most efficient and least polluting."
But, she pointed out,
it will probably take 20 years to put a viable hydrogen fuel on the market
to substitute natural gas, diesel and gasoline in power plants and vehicles.
At the moment, said the
minister, a timetable is being drawn up for research and technological exchange
programs between the US and Brazil.
Nielmar de Oliveira works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett