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    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Overview of biofuel cooperation agreements in the Global South

The past few months have seen a whole series of biofuel cooperation agreements being signed between countries in the developing world. To keep an oversight, we made a simple map showing these formal relations. Does it indicate that the 'Global South' knows that now is the time to work together and to build a green energy future? It seems so. Energy independence, energy security and 'energy leapfrogging' based on bioenergy are no longer vague concepts, they are gradually becoming a reality, in the South.

Clear avant-garde 'kernels' can be discerned by looking at the map: usual suspect Brazil is pulling several countries towards its own ethanol example, with agreements on all three continents in the South, sharing its knowledge about biofuels, and its state-of-the art technologies. In Asia, China, Malaysia and Indonesia are active players as well, with the latter two drawing on their decade long experience with oil palm plantations and their recent development of, for example, cold tolerant palm biodiesel.

The following overview merely draws attention to agreements signed directly between states in the southern hemisphere so far. We will regularly update the map. And in a later article we will be looking at socalled 'South North South' agreements, because these are being signed more and more often as well. Furthermore, many informal deals have seen the light of day, with companies (from either the South or the North) investing in a developing country, either as a purely private venture, or within the frame-work of public-private partnerships. We will map this growing network of relations soon. But let us now list the 'South South' agreements and highlight their most interesting aspects:
:: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Brazil - Panamá - June 2006
Panamá and Brazil are combining their strengths to create a centre for the global distribution of biofuels. Panamá has no petroleum reserves of its own and is looking to Brazilian expertise for a technology transfer program that should introduce local biofuels production. But more importantly, Panamá of course has its intercontinental Canal, facing both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. And that's a great asset, especially for Brazil. Panamá would become a bioenergy hub, processing and distributing biofuels from Brazil for export to both the Far East, Europe and the United States's West Coast. See previous post.

Brazil - Venezuela - May 2006
The governments of Brazil and Venezuela signed an memorandum of understanding for energy cooperation on ethanol. In a first phase, Brazil's state oil company Petrobras is to deliver ethanol to Venezuela, and later to provide technical support in several areas, such as fuel reception, transportation, distribution, safety regulations, mix and transmix procedures...
The accord was negotiated between the Ministries of Energy of both countries, Petrobras, and PDVSA (the Venezuelan government-owned oil company). See previous post.

Brazil - Senegal - August 2006
Senegal recently launched the first phase of its biofuels program with direct support of Brazil's president Lula, and carried out by entrepreneurs from India. Senegal wants to learn and offers land and labor; Brazil brings in scientific and technological know-how; and Indian business makes sure that enough capital is in place. This public-private partnership is hailed as a win-win situation for all partners involved. See previous post.

Brazil - India - August/September 2006
Both countries held a round of talks on the topic of sugarcane acreage acquisitions by India. The Asian country wants to invest in energy security by controlling land suitable for the production of biofuels, mainly sugar cane for ethanol. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to flag the issue of Indian state-owned oil firms acquiring sugarcane fields in Brazil during his visit later this month (september). See previous post.

Brazil - Southern Africa (Mozambique/Angola/South Africa) - September 2006
The initiative for this cooperation agreement comes from the UK, which is taking the green energy revolution seriously, and wants multilateral cooperation agreements with biofuel leaders like Brazil to invest in the Global South. It is not clear yet which countries in Africa will benefit from the investment and the agreement, but the deal concerns the 'Southern African' region, with both Mozambique, Angola and South Africa as potential candidates. The first sights have been set on producing sugar cane for ethanol. See previous post.
In a very similar agreement, signed a few months earlier, France and Brazil agreed to work together on the development of biofuels in the South, more particularly in the 'poorest African countries' (probably in Francophone Africa) and in the Caribbean. See previous post.

PANPP: African Association of Non-Oil Producing Countries ('Pays Africains Non-Producteurs de Pétrole') - August 2006
15 African countries sign an agreement to work towards common energy security based on the sharing of knowledge and technology for the production of biofuels and bioenergy. The 'Green OPEC' is born, and more African countries are expected to join later this month, when the PANPP's second meeting takes place in Morocco. See previous posts.

Malaysia - Venezuela - August 2006.
Hugo Chavez's state visit to Malaysia resulted in an agreement between the two countries on the front of palm oil production for biofuels. In his usual flamboyant style, President Chavez immediately placed the cooperation deal in the context of the geopolitics of energy. See previous post.

Malaysia - China - August 2006
Both countries sign a research and development (R&D) cooperation deal to further develop biofuel and biomass production technologies. The agreement is aimed at exploiting the vast amounts of biomass that are produced on oil palm plantations. As we reported in an earlier post, only 10% of all this biomass is currently used as a feedstock for liquid biofuels. The 90% that are not used, are the object of this R&D deal between China and Malaysia. The development of bioconversion technologies that can utilize the many tons of palm biomass for the production of liquid fuels, would mean a great step forward for both countries, and for the global biofuels industry in general. See previous post.

Malaysia - Indonesia - May 2006
The world's largest palm oil producers team up to develop a fledgling palm based biodiesel and ethanol industry. Several cooperation agreements were signed, covering all the aspects of palm biofuel production, research, and marketing. See previous post.

India - Indonesia - August 2006
Both countries sign a trade-deal cutting tariffs on crude palm oil (CPO). The agreement is aimed at speeding up the development of palm biodiesel in India, whereby the country would import far more CPO than it currently does (India already is Indonesia's largest CPO client). The deal should also offset price-hikes were palm oil to increase on rising global palm biofuel demand. See here.

Burma - Thailand - August 2006
Thai investors, supported by the state, are seeking opportunities in Burma for the establishment of biofuel plantations. We are not sure whether a formal bilateral agreement has already been signed, but there has been talk of 'cooperation agreements' between the two countries on the national level. See previous post, and references there.

China - Nigeria - August 2006
Nigeria's central state of Niger and the Chinese government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the establishment of a first ethanol plant in the state, with cassava as a feedstock. At the signing ceremony held in the state capital Minna, Secretary to the Niger State Government Adams Erena said the project "will gulp 11.6 billion naira" (about €60 million/US$ 90 million). He said a Chinese company would serve as a consultant to the project, adding that the company was expected to source 85 percent of the project investment through a soft loan from the Chinese government on 3 percent interest rate. See previous post.

Indian Ocean Island States with China and Malaysia - August 2006
A group of island states in the Indian Ocean -- Reunion, Madagascar and Mauritius -- are allying with China and Malaysia to create a regional biofuel production network. Mauritius, Malaysia and China deliver the know-how and technical expertise, whereas Madagascar and Réunion offer land for plantations.
Malaysia, with its expertise in palm oil production, would be the central node in the 'biodiesel axis', whereas China would focus on technology transfers concerning the 'ethanol axis'. See previous post.

Biopact, 2006, cc, some rights reserved.


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