Brazil Opens Gas Stations in Japan, First Step to Win Asian Market

Brazilian Petrobras's ethanol plant Petrobras, the Brazilian state-controlled oil and gas multinational, has plans to open next year its first service stations in Japan to promote the distribution of ethanol, of which Brazil is the world's second leading producer, after the US, according to a report from daily O Estado de S. Paulo. Petrobras already operates an oil refinery in Japan.

Japan would be the first step in a long term plan to conquer the Asian ethanol market. Brazil currently exports 380 million liters of ethanol made out of sugarcane, but the target is to reach 12 billion liters in a decade.

"That is one of the reasons why we are in Okinawa", said João Brandão, director of the Nansei Sekiyu refinery recently acquired by Petrobras in Japan. With the refinery support Petrobras plans to begin the distribution of different oil refined products, including a gasoline with 3% of ethanol, as stipulated under Japanese law.

However Petrobras aim is higher: take advantage of Japan's policy of increasing the percentage of biofuels in its energy matrix, Japan currently imports 500 million liters of ethanol, 380 million from Brazil and the rest from the US, where the biofuel is made out of corn.

"Petrobras had no assets in Asia and the corporation is intent in becoming global, Investing in Okinawa means participating in the leading consumer markets such as China and India which are geographically close to Japan," pointed out Brandão.

Petrobras anticipates that Japan's consumption should reach 12 billion liters annually once the country fully instruments its energy diversification policies and contaminating gas emissions reduction.

The project to make Japan one of Brazil's main clients was started two years ago when BrazilJapan Ethanol was created, an association of Petrobras with Japanese government owned Nippon Alcohol Hanbai KK.

Since Petrobras long term project also includes expanding sales to the rest of Asia, Japan will play a leading role in increasing sales and as a distribution hub for the area.




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