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Viet Nam targets 2014 for bio-fuel project

Update: November, 29/2012 - 11:51

By Manh Ha

People nationwide are expected to use bio-fuel E5 by 2015.—File photo
HA NOI (VNS) – Viet Nam will start blending bio-fuels with petrol to power road vehicles from 2014, as the government seeks to push ahead with its commitment to establish green credentials.

According to a new itinerary issued by Government leader Nguyen Tan Dung, seven cities and provinces throughout the country including Ha Noi, central Da Nang City and HCM City will take the lead in the bio-fuel development programme, which will contribute to safeguarding the nation's energy supplies and environment.

The programme, to be applied for producers and suppliers of petrol for road vehicles, is planned to be rolled out nationwide by the end of 2015.

Implementation

Viet Nam has built six ethanol production plants in key manioc growing areas in the central region, with a combined capacity of 550 million litres per year.

Three of these plants are owned by the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PVN).

It's been reported that the plants are able to supply 300,000 cubic metres of ethanol per year, enough to blend 6 million cubic metres of E5 bio-fuel, which would cover 94 per cent of the country's predicted petrol demand in 2014.

The current supply source is sufficient but only three of the country's 10 plus wholesale petrol enterprises are selling E5 - PV Oil, Petec and Saigon Petro. Of them, PV Oil is taking the lead with 150 bio-fuel selling stations in 34 cities and provinces.

A PV Oil statistic showed the group sold nearly 20,000 cubic metres of E5 in 2011. It expects to sell about 100,000 cubic metres by 2013, equal to one-third of PVN's current capacity.

General Director of Saigon Petrol Dang Vinh Sang said the price of E5 was VND100 lower per litre than normal petrol A92. His company was experimentally selling bio-fuel at four stations.

Sang said the enterprises would not make losses if a lot of bio-fuel is sold, because they enjoy exemptions from the environment protection fee and special consumption tax on the volume of ethanol sold. In addition, it also supports the farmers who grow manioc for producing ethanol, providing roughly VND400 per kg of manioc.

Sang said his group had enough labourers and facilities to expand the market for bio-fuel to about 1,000 agents from central Khanh Hoa Province to southernmost Ca Mau Province.

"There is nothing to worry about the source of supply, but the most important thing is to improve people's awareness in order to boost demand," said Sang.

People's awareness

Viet Nam has boosted investment in developing bio-fuels in recent years, however one of the biggest difficulties has been attracting petrol agents to sell bio-fuel.

A Ha Noi petrol station owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he would have to invest tens of millions of dong to build an E5 pumping pillar and a tank. But he indicated that he would be willing to do so if he received the State's support.

Nguyen Van Thuong, a petrol station manager in Binh Thanh District, said his station has an E5 pumping pillar, but doesn't sell much of the fuel. "There were a few cars or motorbikes that bought this kind of fuel, but I'm not sure if they know that it's bio-fuel."

Besides, many consumers have no reason to use bio-fuels or worry about the effect of the fuel on their vehicles.

A Viet Nam News survey taken at Ha Noi's Tran Hung Dao street petrol station, found that customers will use bio-fuel instead of traditional ones if its price is much lower and the safety of their vehicles' engine is ensured.

Nguyen Manh Dung, a customer at the petrol station, said he has the right to weigh up the economical value and the engine's durability when choosing between traditional fuels and bio-fuel.

"The different levels of the prices between traditional and bio-fuels is not much. Meanwhile, using normal fuels like A92 and A95 has become a habit for consumers. It's not easy to change the habit," said Dung.

Recently, the Ha Noi Science and Technology University found that E5 was safe for road vehicle engines and did not require a change to the vehicles' composition or parts. The use of E5 would help improve the engine's capacity and reduce HC and CO emissions.

To ensure continuous production, the PVN's enterprises have to sell ethanol to some other countries including the Philippines, South Korea and China at a loss.

To turn the Prime Minister's itinerary into a reality on time, the Government and its related agencies need to provide solutions for promoting demand and creating a step by step process to reduce losses for the producers and to safeguard the environment. – VNS

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