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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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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Indonesia's $12.4bn biofuels plan inaugurated today; CNOOC to invest $5.5bn

In a ceremony held in Jakarta this morning, biofuel superpower Indonesia gave the green light to its massive bioenergy plan (earlier post) with the signing of 67 contracts for biofuel development. The contracts, which fall under the 'Joint Initiative for Biofuel Development', represent a total of €9.5/US$12.4 billion. The ceremony was attended by 9 Ministers and hosted by Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

Among the firms and institutions that will invest in Indonesian biofuels are:
  • The China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) which has committed to invest a staggering €4.2/US$5.5 billion
  • Malaysia-based Genting Energy brings in €2.3/US$3 billion
  • The investment of Hong Kong Energy was not disclosed but is expected to be in the billions too
  • Besides direct foreign investments, Indonesian (state-owned) Banks are to disburse 25 trillion rupiah (€2/US$2.7 billion) in loans to finance local farmers that help the biofuel projects (earlier post).
  • The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), the Research and Development Division of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources are amongst the scientific institutions that signed the Memoranda of Understanding to support biofuels projects in Indonesia.
Indonesia's bioenergy plan is expected to boost the rural economy and to bring employment and job security to 2.5 million people by 2010 (earlier post):

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The tropical island state is host to a myriad of energy crops that yield high amounts of useable energy. Under the bioenergy program, the government has committed 6 million hectares of land for the cultivation of four crops it deems to be most promising: sugarcane, cassava, jatropha and oil palm. Besides the establishment of new plantations, increasing the efficiency of smallholder activities and replanting old estates are amongst the priorities. When it comes to palm oil, a large number of Indonesia's farmers are smallholders who produce some 40% of the country's total oil output. It is expected that the ratio between smallholders and large estates is not to change dramatically under the bioenergy plan.

The funds released by banks will mainly go towards smallholders, even though the State is contributing a large amount of money for the creation of new infrastructures aimed at turning Indonesia into a biofuel economy. Infrastructures that are receiving funds include the building of rural extension roads, dedicated railways from estates to processing centres, and new port facilities.

Among the Ministries attending the signing ceremony were Coordinating Minister for Economy, Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, Minister of Agriculture, State Minister for the Environment, Minister of Trade and State Minister for State Owned Company. The program was also attended by 7 Governors and 18 Regents from across the country.

According to the Chairman of the National Team for Bioenergy Development, Al-Hilal Hamdi, the commitment for investment on biofuels came to a total of US$12.4 billion from upstream to downstream activities.

The Indonesian overnment strongly encourages the private sectors to develop biofuels in order to reduce the country's dependency on oil. Even though Indonesia is an OPEC member, its own oil production has gone into decline, and the 220 million strong country has become a net oil importer.


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