LOCAL sugar producers from the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations Inc. (Confed) assured they are capable of supplying ethanol plants all the feedstock they need

LOCAL sugar producers from the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations Inc. (Confed) assured they are capable of supplying ethanol plants all the feedstock they need to produce the projected requirement of more than 400 million liters of ethanol by

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Reynaldo Bantug, chairman of the Negros/Panay chapter of Confed, said local sugar producers have the capacity to help the ethanol industry produce the volume of ethanol that should be mixed with gasoline, as mandated by the Biofuels Act.

The Biofuels Act mandates that 10-percent ethanol should be blended with gasoline by 2011. Currently, oil companies sell gasoline mixed with 5- percent ethanol as prescribed by law.

“[The industry] has the capability to expand sugar-cane plantations by 130,000 hectares if there is a market for sugar as feedstock [for ethanol],” Bantug told reporters in a briefing in Quezon City yesterday.

However, only San Carlos Bioenergy Distillery and the Leyte Agri Corp. produce local bioethanol.

The Philippines imports most of its ethanol requirements from Brazil. Local distillers supply around 50 million liters of the 220 million liters of ethanol required to meet the 5-percent blending required by law for 2009.

Pending ethanol projects include Green Futures Inc. in partnership with Itochu of Japan, Alto Power with a Japanese partner, Roxol Bioenergy Corp., Cavite Biofuels Producers Inc. and Capas Bioenergy Inc.

All pending projects in the pipeline will contribute as much as 190 million liters of ethanol on top of the 50 million liters combined production of San Carlos and Leyte Agri.

Confed president Federico Locsin said only a viable ethanol industry will ensure that the local sugar sector will remain competitive in the face of trade liberalization.

Locsin said his group is supporting the appeal of the Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines (Epap) to raise most-favored nation tariffs to 20 percent from the current 1 percent.

Confed said this will make the local ethanol industry a more attractive sector to foreign and domestic investors alike.

Epap and Confed will be presenting their case before the Tariff Commission in a public hearing scheduled today.

The petition seeks to protect the fledgling ethanol industry from competition from the more mature ethanol industries overseas, as well as provide a safety net to local sugar producers.

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