Brazil’s state-run oil giant, Petrobras, is going to provide technical and commercial support for a fuel program in Nigeria that will use a sugarcane-based ethanol additive.
Nigeria will get assistance from Brazil enabling it to add ethanol to gasoline (which should begin in 2006). Preliminary estimates are that the Nigerian market could absorb 3 million liters of ethanol daily.
Brazilian technicians will also assist Nigeria in growing sugarcane. Finally, the two countries will begin technical studies of a biodiesel program, which adds vegetable oils to diesel fuel.
In a note, Petrobras reports that it and the Nigerian state-run oil company (NNPC) have been working together since 2000 on exploration and production of petroleum in the Niger River delta.
Chinese experts were in Brazil earlier this year to learn about the ethanol production process, automobile industries operations, and the sector’s legislation.
According to the delegation leader, Sun Xiaokang, China currently lives an expressive economic expansion, which is causing fuel scarcity. To face this situation, the country has developed pilot projects in nine provinces that mix alcohol to gasoline. The proportion of ethanol used in these cases is 10%, which generates a consumption of 1 billion liters of alcohol per year.
“Brazil is in the avant-garde in the use of alcohol-gasoline mixture. The country has accumulated experiences in incentive policies and technology that deserve to be studied by China,” added Xiaokang.
He says that the Chinese government expects this visit to strengthen political and commercial ties, and to bring mutual benefits, which may include exporting the Brazilian product to that country.
According to the Secretary of the Production Development of the Ministry of Development, Industry, and External Trade, Antônio Sérgio de Melo, the possibility is real.
“Brazil always wants to export, but, at this moment, we will show our advancements and knowledge in the area.”
Melo says that the future will bring a trading increase that demands a longer negotiation with the Chinese government, which has just begun. For him, exports will not cause less alcohol availability in the Brazilian market.
Today, Brazil produces 10.4 billion of liters of alcohol per year, according to the São Paulo Sugarcane Agroindustry Union (UNICA).
The Secretary mentioned that China has experience with corn-based alcohol. “But we know that sugarcane is more efficient, with lower production costs, and higher productivity levels,” he affirmed.
Data from the Ministry reveal that sugarcane alcohol costs US$ 0.20 per liter, while corn-based alcohol costs US$ 0.31. Alcohol produced from wheat costs US$ 0.48 and from beet, US$ 0.52.
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