Independent oil firm Eastern Petroleum

Independent oil firm Eastern Petroleum is in talks with investors for possible joint venture in building up ethanol facilities in the country.

”Offers of joint venture and loans are there…the funds are there,” Eastern Petroleum chairman Fernando Martinez said.

Martinez said the firm expects to seal a deal with South Korean and Japanese partners by March.

He did not name the foreign partners but admitted that Eastern Petroleum remained on a wait-and-see attitude now as some issues had to be resolved such as the issue on sustainability of feedstocks.

The Biofuels law, also known as Republic Act 9367, mandates a 5 percent bioethanol blend into gasoline in 2009 and 10 percent blend in 2011.

In 2009, the country’s demand for bioethanol was pegged at 300 million liters per day and 600 million liters per day for 2011.

Because of this projected demand in bioethanol, the country needs to set up 15 to 20 ethanol plants.

But Martinez said there were only two ethanol plants now operating in the country — the San Carlos Bioenergy and the Leyte Agri Corp.

He also said Eastern petroleum was also looking at Visayas region for possible area of expansion.

At present, the firm has 30-hectare cassava [feedstock] nursery in Isabela.

Ethanol is a high-octane, water-free alcohol produced from sugar cane and other crops such as corn, cassava, sweet sorghum. It is used as a blending component at 5 percent to 10 percent concentration in gasoline.

Unlike fossil fuels, ethanol is virtually inexhaustible since agricultural products can be grown and harvested continually under a sustainable system. (PNA)

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