December 2, 2007 (Inquirer) – A MADRID-BASED biodiesel firm is planning to invest $200 million in the Philippines to develop at least 100,000 hectares of land into jatropha plantations, the Department of Agriculture said.
The jatropha will be used as feedstock for biofuel facilities in the country.
According to Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap, Bionor Transformacion S.A., a global multi-feedstock firm, disclosed last month its plans to invest in the Philippines’ biofuel sector through the memorandum of agreement signed between AME Bioenergy Corp. and Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp.
Under the agreement, AME is the “key integrator for Bionor in the country” and has been tasked to “identify suitable jatropha plantation sites, consolidate lands, organize and train farm labor and organize local support to install plantation infrastructure.”
AME is likewise expected to study the cost structure for production to determine and recommend to Bionor whether its planned jatropha development project is economically viable and internationally competitive.
Meanwhile, PADCC will assist AME and mobilize the resources of the DA’s agencies and bureaus, as well as financial institutions, to help realize Bionor’s investment plans.
“Bionor’s main thrust is to develop feedstock plantations worldwide using raw materials that do not compete with the food sector and do not lead to deforestation,” Yap said.
For this reason, Bionor is tapping jatropha, a non-food crop, to support the requirements of its refineries, he added.
Bionor is currently operating two biodiesel plants in Spain and Italy with a combined output of 125,000 metric tons.
It is constructing an additional five plants in Spain and Brazil, which will add 900,000 MT of capacity in 2008.
By the first quarter of 2009, Bionor is expected to have a combined capacity of more than a million tons of methyl ester.
Last January, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law RA 9367 or the Biofuels Law, which aims to ease the country’s dependence on imported, dollar-draining and pollution-generating energy sources.
The law has made the blending of ethanol and coco biodiesel in petroleum products mandatory.