Petrobras plans ethanol plant for Moza
Maputo – Brazilian oil company, Petrobras, plans to start producing ethanol in Mozambique in 2014.
The company’s executive revealed the plans on the sidelines of a Maputo conference entitled “Brazil and Africa: Opting for Sustainable Development’ last Wednesday.
According to the chairperson of Petrobras Combustíveis, Miguel Macedo, the company would set up a distillery next year, with production set for 2014.
Mozambique has approved biofuel projects using ethanol as the primary source since 2007.
“According to the approved timetable, the details of the project are expected to be concluded by [this] December, in 2013 the distillery will be built and in 2014 ethanol production will begin,” Macedo said.
Miguel Rosseto, chairperson of Petrobras Biocombustível, said the company was receiving price quotes for equipment it plans to instal in the Mozambique ethanol factory.
“We already produce sugar in Mozambique and will now start producing ethanol from molasses,” said Rosseto at last Wednesday’s meeting. Brazilian state development bank, Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Económico e Social (BNDES), organised the meeting to support Brazilian investments in Africa.
The company would initially invest US$20 million, Rosetto said, and plans to produce 20 000 cubic metres (20 million litres) of ethanol per year to supply the Mozambican market.
Rosseto also said investments would be made via Guarani, a company associated to Petrobras Biocombustível, in which oil group Petrobras has a 45.7percent stake since its acquisition in 2010.
So far, foreign companies have invested about U$710 million in Mozambique to produce 440 million litres of ethanol a year from sugarcane and the projects could generate between 7 000 and 10 000 jobs.
The country’s Centre for Agriculture Promotion (CEPAGRI) says it has various proposals for ethanol production from sugarcane and sorghum, being considered throughout Mozambique.
“If all projects were approved, it would mean by 2020 an area of between 80 000 and 130 000 hectares would be under cultivation, producing between 835 million and 1.6 billion litres of ethanol a year,” a CEPAGRI senior official told the Southern Times.
“The government has received a series of other proposals to produce ethanol, not only from sugarcane, but also from millet, in no less than six provinces,” the official added.
CEPAGRI says most of this ethanol would be exported to the European Union. Mozambique has drafted a strategy for the production of biofuels from the drought-resistant jatropha crop, which contains up to 40 percent oil.
Jatropha is a non-food crop whose oil can be used to produce biodiesel. It can be grown on semi-arid land and its proponents say it poses less of a threat to food production than other biofuel feedstocks such as grains and vegetable oils. The government said it has received requests to open up more than 5 million hectares of land for the production of bio-diesel, with coconuts, sunflower and the weed-like jatropha plant being tested as possible feedstock.