Ethanol producers want to import molasses
Gilbert Bayoran (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2019 - 12:00am

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Ethanol producers have sought the help of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo  on the lack of molasses that hampered the production of bioethanol.

Hubert Tubio, Roxas Holdings Inc. (RHI) president and CEO, said they cannot fully operate continuously as sugar farms are not producing enough tonnage of molasses, which is priced very high.

“If they allow us to import feedstock for our bioethanol and export the same, it will enable us to operate our facility at the capacity it is built for. It will alleviate the prices of molasses because we will not be pushing hard for the volume that we need, we will not be competing that hard...a small volume for so many users,” Tubio said.

Bioethanol produces San Carlos Bionergy Inc. (SCBI) is a subsidiary of listed RHI. It was inaugurated by then president Arroyo in 2005, in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

Arroyo, who visited the SCBI plant in Brgy. Palampas, San Carlos City, disclosed that she will convene an oversight committee meeting to be chaired by Rep. Melecio Yap (1st district,Negros Occ.) to look into the request of local ethanol producers.

“We can dialog with the industry, Sugar Regulatory Administration, Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Department of Energy on their (ethanol producers) proposal to be able to import feedstock and export bioethanol, which should not disturb the local production of sugar for the table,” she said.

“Whether that can be viable, I can’t make that final judgment. There are experts in the industry and the three agencies,” Arroyo added.

Arroyo was the principal advocate of the Biofuels Act of 2006 which designed to replace the 10 percent of imported gasoline with domestically-produced fuel.

The Philippine Fuel Ethanol Alliance reported that the use of five percent blend of ethanol in 2005 in gasoline from years 2007 to 2010 and 10 percent from 2010 to 2017 displaced the use of 3.7 billion liters of gasoline by an equal volume of ethanol over a 10- year period.

Tubio, said that middlemen are making money from the high price of molasses. “If we’re allowed to import for re-export, it can alleviate the pricing for the general good,” he added.

But he pointed out that their request for importation has to be controlled or regulated as they don’t want to disrupt the prices of molasses. But as  to how many tons of molasses that they will import, Tubio said it will  depend on the window that will open to them.

He added that the bioethanol fuel supports the environment and broadens the market for Filipino sugar farmers, and boosts the rural economic development.

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