PetroVietnam to invest in biofuel production

The Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation (PetroVietnam) will invest $120 million (93 million Euro's) to set up a bioethanol plant in the Dung Quat economic zone in central Ngai province. The Deputy Minister of Sciences and Technology Nguyen Van Lang says Vietnam has an urgent need to develop biofuels to meet its energy demands.

The country is placing a high priority on investment and exploitation of agricultural waste and its by-products.

The programme for developing biofuel may curb Vietnam's imports of oil and help reduce a trade deficit that has widened by 87% in the nine months to September from the same period a year earlier.

Vietnam plans to produce 100,000 tonnes of 5% ethanol blend and 50,000 tonnes of 5% biodiesel blend a year by 2010, meeting 0.4% of fuel demand.

The country has five biofuel plant projects under construction. Three, including an $85 million plant by PetroVietnam, will start producing 240 million litres of 99.7% ethanol a year from next year. The plants will use cassava and sugarcane as feedstock.

From 2010, the country will produce another 200 million litres of biofuel per year from another $85 million PetroVietnam plant, and PetroVietnam General Services Joint-Stock Company's joint venture with Japan's Itochu.

The government will also consider importing biofuel as part of efforts to introduce the products to consumers.

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