The National Biofuels Board (NBB) and the Department of Energy (DOE) conducted a public consultation on ‘Bioethanol Mandate’ at a Valencia City hotel November 24, 2010 to arrive at a mutually agreeable 5% or 10% mechanism for the alternative fuel for a smooth implementation of the Biofuels policy.
The Philippines’ Biofuels Act prescribes that ethanol have to account for at least 5% of total annual gasoline sales from February 2009 and 10% from 2011.
In the open forum, the two sugar millers in Bukidnon – Bukidnon Sugar Company and Crystal Sugar- implied support on the 10% bioethanol mandate.
The big oil companies like Petron, Shell, Chevron including small independent retailers, ethanol producers, and sugar cane planters who were present during the forum also showed support to the 10% ethanol-blended gasoline rather than the 5%.
This, after Butch Alisla of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) explained the status of the sugar industry and domestic ethanol production.
Alex Loinaz of the DOE also proved the gains of using ethanol/biofuels instead of ethanol-free gasoline available at roadside gas stations.
Meanwhile, lack of local supply of ethanol is still a major concern.
Rosemarie Gumera, technical working group planner for the NBB said the biofuels law provides that imports be allowed only for four years from the date of implementation of the law.
“So, starting February 2011, companies will not be allowed to import ethanol and there might not be enough domestic production to meet the 10% mandate.
If there is not enough ethanol supply by 2011, the mandate could remain at 5%, Gumerra said.
Several issues ranging from low domestic ethanol production, lack of funding for the ethanol industry, ethanol-pricing index, and poor public awareness of ethanol-blended gasoline appear to be the latest hurdle.
Said issues were all accounted by the NBB secretariat to be tackled by the NBB in the next forum. (Ruby Balistoy / PIA Bukidnon)