<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home / Archive
Nature Blog Network

    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.

Creative Commons License

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Africa battles its 'oil curse'

PARIS: Experts call it the ‘oil curse’. In Africa’s oil exporting countries, only a tiny fraction of revenues is used to fight poverty, and in many cases black gold has actually become a hurdle to development.

Oil in Africa: from the Gulf of Guinea to northwestern Sudan lies at the heart of questions of good governance and development, as oil prices and revenues soar but fail to bring better living standards for millions of poor.

Across the continent, ‘oil money evaporates into the savannah’, Jean-Marie Chevalier, a professor at Paris-Dauphine University and director of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), told a conference in Paris last week.

Not only does oil wealth fail to translate into economic development, but in many cases it distorts the country’s economy and holds back the development of other export industries, he said.

Almost everywhere in Africa, oil has fostered corruption and bureaucracy without benefiting the poor, according to speakers at the conference, organised by the French Agency for Development.

Africa accounts for 11.4 per cent of global oil production, holding 9.4 per cent of the world’s reserves.

The continent’s output has surged by 40 per cent since 1990 to 10 million barrels per day (bpd), fuelled by demand from importers such as the United States and China looking to diversify their supply outside the Middle East.

Established exporters such as Nigeria, Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon have been joined by newcomers Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Sao Tome and most recently Mauritania.

Yet despite the flow of oil revenues, African producers fare no better than importers in terms of development, according to Chevalier.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest exporter with 2.5 million bpd is a prime example of the ‘oil curse’, according to Philippe Sebille-Lopez, of the French Institute of Geopolitics.

‘The evolution is catastrophic and the country is regressing in terms of human development,’ he said.

Between 2004 and 2005, Nigeria lost seven places on the UN scale of human development, sliding from 151st to 158th out of 177 countries monitored.

More than 70 per cent of Nigeria’s 130 million inhabitants survive on less than a dollar a day, and social unrest has gripped the oil-rich south as local communities rise up to claim a share of revenues.

Another case in point is Chad, which has been exporting crude oil since 2003, reaching a current rate of 200,000 barrels per day.

‘Chadians don’t understand why oil prices are rising but not their living standards,’ said Geraud Magrin, a leading researcher in the field.

Under a World Bank scheme, imposed in part because of endemic corruption, Chad agreed in 1999 for its oil to be extracted by a US-Malaysian consortium and for the revenues to be funnelled into development programmes.

‘The idea was to use oil for sustainable development,’ said Magrin. Ten per cent of oil revenues were to be set aside for future generations, and 85 per cent used for poverty reduction and development projects.

But the benefits have failed so far to reach the poor, with almost 80 per cent of the population still without access to drinking water and one in four children dying before the age of 10.

Since oil revenues started to flow in 2004, Chad has slid down 15 places on the Transparency International corruption index, and is now rated the world’s most corrupt country.

Meanwhile, the regime of President Idriss Deby Itno, facing cash shortages and threatened by armed rebellions, has already questioned the system, provoking a stand-off with the World Bank.

Experts from Mauritania, which recently joined the club of oil exporting nations, ‘came to ask us what can be done to avoid the oil curse’, said Jean-Marie Chevalier.

According to Oxford University economist Paul Collier the only way to ensure African oil wealth transforms into growth is for ‘rich countries to apply pressure to ensure that checks and balance are put in place’.

Currently, this job is largely being carried out by non-governmental organisations and international donors, as in the case of Chad.

But in the long term, argued economic consultant Christine Rosellini, African producers will only be able to fight corruption, improve governance and create sustainable development by reducing their dependency on oil.

By Alain Bommenel, AFP

Article continues