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    Abraaj, a Dubai-based firm, has bought the company Egyptian Fertilizers in order to benefit from rising demand for crops used to make biofuels. The Abraaj acquisition of all the shares of Egyptian Fertilizers values the company based in Suez at US$1.41 billion. Egyptian Fertilizers produces about 1.25 million tons a year of urea, a nitrogen-rich crystal used to enrich soils. The company plans to expand its production capacity by as much as 20 percent in the next two years on the expected global growth in biofuel production. International Herald Tribune - June 4, 2007.

    China and the US will soon sign a biofuel cooperation agreement involving second-generation fuels, a senior government official said. Ma Kai, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a media briefing that vice premier Wu Yi discussed the pact with US Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and other US officials during the strategic economic dialogue last month. Forbes - June 4, 2007.

    German biogas company Schmack Biogas AG reports a 372% increase in revenue for the first quarter of the year, demonstrating its fast growth. Part of it is derived from takeovers. Solarserver [*German] - June 3, 2007.

    Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has suspended the export of 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil because of community unrest in southern Nigeria, a company spokesman said. Villagers from K-Dere in the restive Ogoniland had stormed the facility that feeds the Bonny export terminal, disrupting supply of crude. It was the second seizure in two weeks. Shell reported on May 15 that protesters occupied the same facility, causing a daily output loss of 170,000 barrels. Rigzone - June 2, 2007.

    Heathrow Airport has won approval to plan for the construction of a new 'green terminal', the buildings of which will be powered, heated and cooled by biomass. The new terminal, Heathrow East, should be completed in time for the 2012 London Olympics. The new buildings form part of operator BAA's £6.2bn 10-year investment programme to upgrade Heathrow. Transport Briefing - June 1, 2007.

    A new algae-biofuel company called LiveFuels Inc. secures US$10 million in series A financing. LiveFuels is a privately-backed company working towards the goal of creating commercially competitive biocrude oil from algae by 2010. PRNewswire - June 1, 2007.

    Covanta Holding Corp., a developer and operator of large-scale renewable energy projects, has agreed to purchase two biomass energy facilities and a biomass energy fuel management business from The AES Corp. According to the companies, the facilities are located in California's Central Valley and will add 75 MW to Covanta's portfolio of renewable energy plants. Alternative Energy Retailer - May 31, 2007.

    Two members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are proposing a study designed to increase the availability of ethanol across the country. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Ia., held a news conference Tuesday to announce that he has introduced a bill in the U.S. House, asking for a US$2 million study of the feasibility of transporting ethanol by pipeline. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Des Moines Register - May 30, 2007.

    A new market study by Frost & Sullivan Green Energy shows that the renewables industry in the EU is expanding at an extraordinary rate. Today biofuels and other renewables represent about 2.1 per cent of the EU's gross domestic product and account for 3.5 million jobs. The study forecasts that revenues from renewables in the world's largest economy are set to double, triple or increase even more over the next few years. Engineer Live - May 29, 2007.

    A project to evaluate barley’s potential in Canada’s rapidly evolving biofuels industry has received funding of $262,000 from the Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative (BOPI). Western Barley Growers Association [*.pdf] - May 27, 2007.

    PNOC-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC), the biofuel unit of Philippine National Oil Company, is planning to undertake an initial public offering next year or in 2009 so it can have its own cash and no longer rely on its parent for funding of biofuels projects. Manila Bulletin - May 27, 2007.

    TMO Renewables Limited, a producer of ethanol from biomass, has licensed the ERGO bioinformatics software developed and maintained by Integrated Genomics. TMO will utilize the genome analysis tools for gene annotation, metabolic reconstruction and enzyme data-mining as well as comparative genomics. The platform will enable the company to further understand and exploit its thermophilic strains used for the conversion of biomass into fuel. CheckBiotech - May 25, 2007.

    Melbourne-based Plantic Technologies Ltd., a company that makes biodegradable plastics from plants, said 20 million pounds (€29/US$39 million) it raised by selling shares on London's AIM will help pay for its first production line in Europe. Plantic Technologies [*.pdf] - May 25, 2007.

    Shell Hydrogen LLC and Virent Energy Systems have announced a five-year joint development agreement to develop further and commercialize Virent's BioForming technology platform for the production of hydrogen from biomass. Virent Energy Systems [*.pdf] - May 24, 2007.

    Spanish energy and engineering group Abengoa will spend more than €1 billion (US$1.35 billion) over the next three years to boost its bioethanol production, Chairman Javier Salgado said on Tuesday. The firm is studying building four new plants in Europe and another four in the United States. Reuters - May 23, 2007.

    According to The Nikkei, Toyota is about to introduce flex-fuel cars in Brazil, at a time when 8 out of 10 new cars sold in the country are already flex fuel. Brazilians prefer ethanol because it is about half the price of gasoline. Forbes - May 22, 2007.

    Virgin Trains is conducting biodiesel tests with one of its diesel engines and will be running a Voyager train on a 20 percent biodiesel blend in the summer. Virgin Trains Media Room - May 22, 2007.

    Australian mining and earthmoving contractor Piacentini & Son will use biodiesel from South Perth's Australian Renewable Fuels across its entire fleet, with plans to purchase up to 8 million litres from the company in the next 12 months. Tests with B20 began in October 2006 and Piacentinis reports very positive results for economy, power and maintenance. Western Australia Business News - May 22, 2007.

    Malaysia's Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui announces he will head a delegation to the EU in June, "to counter European anti-palm oil activists on their own home ground". The South East Asian palm oil industry is seen by many European civil society organisations and policy makers as unsustainable and responsible for heavy deforestation. Malaysia Star - May 20, 2007.

    Paraguay and Brazil kick off a top-level seminar on biofuels, cooperation on which they see as 'strategic' from an energy security perspective. 'Biocombustiveis Paraguai-Brasil: Integração, Produção e Oportunidade de Negócios' is a top-level meeting bringing together the leaders of both countries as well as energy and agricultural experts. The aim is to internationalise the biofuels industry and to use it as a tool to strengthen regional integration and South-South cooperation. PanoramaBrasil [*Portuguese] - May 19, 2007.

    Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS and Petrobras SA have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a biofuels joint venture. The joint venture will undertake technical and financial feasibility studies to set up a plant in Brazil to export biofuels to Portugal. Forbes - May 19, 2007.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Brazil, India to sign biofuel pact

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, aiming to strengthen business ties and boost diplomatic links between the two emerging market giants. Lula arrived in India on Sunday, 3 June, on a three-day visit, his second in a little over three years, with a strong business agenda and a delegation of some 100 businessmen, on his way to the G8 summit in Germany this week, where he will discuss biofuels, climate change and trade (earlier post).

India and Brazil have forged strong strategic and trade ties in recent years and have emerged with a common position on key issues such as global trade talks and expansion of the UN Security Council. The two rising giants form the core of the G20, the group of developing nations with a special interest in agriculture, which offers a counter-weight to the G8 on trade and the Doha Round. Writing in The Hindu ahead of his arrival in India, Lula stated the following:
Both of our countries share a converging, innovative and hopeful perception of the world. Faced with an unequal world order incapable of responding to problems of development and collective security, India and Brazil avow their confidence in multilateralism and, through democratic dialogue, have been undertaking increasing international responsibilities.

This is what we have been pursing within the G-20. Despite the scepticism and opposition of a few countries, India and Brazil have shown steadfastness and determination in order to achieve a balanced equitable results in the Doha Round negotiations.
Announcing the strategic alliance on biofuels, Lula continued:
This is also the case of biofuels. We are endeavouring to forge a genuine energy revolution. India and Brazil joined efforts with South Africa, China, United States and the European Union to launch an International Forum on Biofuels. The democratization of access to new energy sources comes along with the need to create a new world market for these fuels. This aims at offering an alternative to the price increases and inexorable scarcity of traditional fossil fuel sources.
The green fuel revolution Lula wants to kickstart is especially important for developing countries:
The biofuels option is of fundamental importance for the developing countries. That is why India and Brazil are joining efforts and sharing knowledge in order to turn biofuels into an energy commodity at worldwide level. Apart from helping to reduce the effects of climate change, biofuels offer the prospect of new jobs and income, improvement in living conditions and sustainable development in rural areas. In Brazil, the sugar-ethanol industry generates a million direct jobs, many of which are in cooperatives and family enterprises, and six million indirect jobs. Moreover, we save billions of dollars in imports of petroleum and its by-products.
Last year, during the first "India Brazil South-Africa" (IBSA) Summit, both countries signed a bioenergy agreement, allowing India to invest in Brazilian energy plantations and to acquire land:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Besides trade discussions and biofuels, Lula and Singh will also talk about are civilian nuclear cooperation and climate change.

Trade between India and Brazil has surged and touched US$2.4 billion in 2006. They have also increased investments in each other’s fast-growing economies. Indian firms have focused on investments and joint ventures in Brazil’s pharmaceutical, IT and energy sectors while Brazilian companies have targeted India’s infrastructure, food processing and energy sectors.

The two countries aim to quadruple trade to $10 billion by 2010 and their business leaders began a day-long parallel conference on Monday to explore new opportunities.
Separately, Brazilian energy giant Petrobras offered 25-30 percent stake to India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. in three exploration blocks, a Petrobras official said.

In return, ONGC offered a 15-40 percent stake in its three deep-water blocks on India’s east coast, Petrobras manager Demarco Epifanio said, adding that a preliminary agreement on the deals would be signed shortly.

Ahead of the visit, Brazilian officials had complained about New Delhi’s hesitation to further open its markets to farm imports and pointed at a fall in Brazilian exports to India by 15 percent to $937 million last year. Lula leaves New Delhi for Germany on Tuesday.

More information:
AlertNet: India, Brazil seek to build strategic relationship - June 4, 2007.

The Hindu: Consolidation of the India-Brazil strategic partnership, by Luis Inacio Lula da Silva - June 3, 2007.

LiveMint: Trade ties, bio-fuels focus of Singh, Lula talks - June 4, 2007.

BrazzilMag: In India, Lula and 100 Businessmen Sell Brazil as Land of Opportunity - June 4, 2007.


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