RP to build fuel plants with China

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The Philippines will produce almost half a million liters of ethanol daily as an alternative to fuel oil under three agreements it will sign with state-owned China Machineries Engineering, an official said here.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said ethanol plants would be built on 30 hectares of sugar land in cooperation with the Chinese company.

“These are very important agreements because our President is promoting the use of alternative sources of energy in a bid to become at least 60 percent self-sufficient by 2010,” Yap said in an interview at the Xianglu Hotel.

Also in Xiamen, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo supported a suggestion by Chinese- Filipino businessmen to establish an economic zone linking the Philippines, Taiwan and Fujian, China.

In her keynote address during yesterday’s business conference hosted by the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., the President said she believed the so-called “golden triangle” would stimulate partnerships among the firms and harness the competitive advantages of the three economies.

Federation president Francis Chua had assured the President that the creation of the economic zone would not stir tension in the country’s relations with China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province and not a sovereign state.

“The golden triangle is one that will result in peace and prosperity. It will be an ecozone for friendship. The proposal is bold in that this would bring in the Philippines as a factor to the joint development of the Chinese and Taiwanese economies,” Chua said.

Under the bio-fuels agreements that the President is to witness, the BSBM Biofuel Corp. in Negros Occidental will tie up with CME to put up an ethanol plant in Murcia that can produce 120,000 liters of fuel a day.

The Southern Negros Development Corp. will put up an ethanol distillery in Camugao and Camansi in Kabankalan City, and within their sugar mill compound, using sugarcane molasses as feedstock.

Yap said the third plant would be built in Zamboanga del Norte and was expected to produce 150,000 liters of ethanol daily.

“We are prepared to [commit] the required sugar land to sustain these plants,” Yap said.

But he said they had yet to work out a way to stop sugar farmers from rescinding their contracts once sugar prices rose.

“We do not want a scenario where the prices of sugar go up and the required supply for ethanol is diverted,” Yap said.

Congress recently passed the Bio-fuels Act, which mandates the use of bio-fuels from coconut and sugarcane for transportation.

Industry experts, oil-company participants, consumer groups and motorists are waiting for the implementing rules and regulations.

Gasoline use in the Philippines is projected at 4.5-billion liters annually. Officials say a 10-percent mandatory ethanol blend or about 400 million liters would save on dollar reserves and also improve the air quality in Metro Manila and other urban areas.