Come January, Brazil Adds Biodiesel to Its Tanks

Brazil is getting ready to take a big leap in the direction of the use of biodiesel, starting next year. The Brazilian government has authorized gas stations to sell vegetable diesel oil, produced from plants, starting in January.

The fuel distributors may add 2% biodiesel to diesel made from oil. There is a three-year span for adaptation. In 2008, the addition starts being compulsory.


“We are replacing diesel with biodiesel, as we did with gas and alcohol. Everything that happened with alcohol in Brazil may also happen with biodiesel,” stated the director of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (Abag), Luiz Carlos Corrêa Carvalho.


Brazil is reference in the development of fuel alcohol and already adds 25% anhydrous alcohol to gas. Of the new cars sold between January and November this year, 25% were alcohol fuelled or dual fuel.


Like what happened with alcohol in the 1970’s, when use of the product was the subject of a national incentive program, Proalcool, the federal government has created the National Program for Production and Use of Biodiesel to organize production and provide incentives to the use of the fuel.


As Brazilian diesel consumption is currently at 38 billion liters a year, the addition of 2% biodiesel should generate a demand of 760 million liters a year.


The use will permit the country to reduce oil diesel imports and also generate more jobs in the field, for soy, castor plant and sunflower seed producers, plants used in the extraction of the vegetable oil.


“In 2005 we will import four billion liters. With this program we are going to save, we are going to use 800 million liters of vegetable oil,” stated the minister of Mines and Energy, Dilma Roussef.


The Minister addressed the matter December 13, together with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on radio program Coffee with the President, on National Radio.


Lula stated that the demand for biodiesel may, at the least, generate an income of US$ 1,000 a year for 250,000 families that work on plantations.


“This is a project that may mean very much to the poorer regions of the country,” stated the president.


Although there are already various productive groups spread around the country, production of biodiesel should become better structured next year, due to demand.


The government forecasts that trade of vegetable diesel may start in February, in the region of Belém, capital of the northern state of Pará, with the addition of the product made from palms.


Halfway through the year, castor biodiesel should be used in the Northeast and in August the soy oil and sunflower oil should start being used in the Midwest and South of the country.


Apart from being a cleaner fuel, biodiesel is one of the alternatives to the use of oil, whose reserves should end in less than 40 years.


The director of the Abag believes that in the future Brazil may even export biodiesel, as is the case with alcohol.


Brazil has substantially been increasing its exports of alcohol. Sales rose from around 800 million liters in 2003 to 2.2 billion this year.


“And they should go on rising,” he said.


Alcohol production, which is currently at around 14 billion liters, should rise to around 16 billion in 2005, according to Carvalho. The Proalcool was the largest fuel replacement program in the world auto market.


Brazil has been developing research in the biodiesel area for around 50 years and registered the first patent for the production process of the fuel in 1980. There are currently various Brazilian research centers working in the development of biodiesel.


At the beginning of this month, the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) announced its plan of financing up to 90% of the projects involving production of the fuel.


A Long Term Interest Rate (TJLP) will be charged, plus another 1% to 3% a year. The institution also expanded the span for payment of the financing for machinery and equipment used in the production of biodiesel.


Renewable sources answer to 43.8% of the Brazilian energy matrix, according to information supplied by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.


The world average is 13.6% and in developed countries 6%.


In up to eight years time, the addition of biodiesel will rise from 2% to 5%. The National Program for Production and Use of Biodiesel is coordinated by 14 Brazilian ministries.


ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency

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