San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. (SCBI), which built the first integrated ethanol facility in Southeast Asia, is finally pushing through with delayed plans to ramp up its yearly production of ethanol to more than 40 million liters from the current 30 million liters.

In an interview with reporters, SCBI chairman Jose Maria T. Zabaleta said the company expects to complete the expansion of the ethanol facility in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, by September 15 this year.

By then, the facility is expected to produce at least 125,000 liters of ethanol a day for about 10 to 11 months in a year, from the current daily production of only 75,000 liters.

“Hopefully we can produce more,” Zabaleta said.

SCBI planned as early as 2009 to increase the capacity of its ethanol plant, but plans were put on hold due to problems plaguing the industry, such as the lack of a government policy on importation of ethanol.

Plans have since been revived following recent developments, particularly the Department of Energy’s (DoE) issuance of a much-awaited circular that contained provisions to ensure that local ethanol will be purchased first before bringing in cheaper ethanol from abroad.

It likewise stated the obligations of the market players, including bioethanol producers, oil companies, the National Biofuels Board, and the DoE’s Renewable Energy Management and Oil Industry Management Bureaus.

The circular also directed the NBB to “publish a monthly price index for bioethanol every first day of the month based on data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration and Department of Agriculture to determine the reasonableness of the price of locally produced bioethanol.”

SCBI currently supplies ethanol to Petron Corp. and also sells electricity to the power grid. — Amy R. Remo



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