Oct 14, 2012

Vietnam - The biofuel plan dies prematurely

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VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam has been cherishing the ambitious plan on making biofuel, which would be consumed domestically as the “fuel of the future.” However, this proves to be a far-away dream.

Two years ago, when launching the program on developing biofuel E5, Vietnamese officials believed that E5, which helps prolong engine’s life expectancy and protects the environment, would become the “fuel of the future.”

Consumers turn back on “clean” fuel, using “dirty” fuel

In Hanoi, E5 biofuel was launched into the market on August 1, 2010 with the sale price 500 dong per liter lower than RON92 petrol.

However, despite the noisy advertisement campaigns, consumers still turn their backs on the clean fuel.

Tien phong reporter, who was at the filling station at No 148 Hoang Quoc Viet street one day, noted that none of the 100 car and motorbike drivers bought E5 petrol, despite the big billboard at the entrance of the filling station.

Yen, who lives in Tu Liem district, said she once used E5 petrol after hearing that E5 was better for motorbike engine. However, she has not used E5 fuel over the last year, because she cannot see any benefits from using biofuel.

“It would be better to use A92 which has been familiar to everyone. Meanwhile, E5 remains unfamiliar to the majority of customers,” she explains her decision. “Meanwhile, E5 is now as expensive as A92 petrol after the price adjustment. Therefore, there is no reason for me to buy E5,” she added.

An officer at the filling station admitted that very few people buy E5 fuel, with only several hundreds of liter of E5 sold every day. Especially, he said, only motorbike drivers accept E5, while no car driver wants the biofuel.

“The slow sales may be attributed to the consumers’ lack of information about the advantages of the biofuel,” he said.

Currently, E5 is available only at three filling stations in Hanoi, including the ones on Hoang Quoc Viet, Thai Thinh streets and the third one in Phu Xuyen district. Meanwhile, the salesmen here all have confirmed that very few people buy E5.

The dream of exporting clean fuel

Since E5 is not favored in the domestic market, biofuel manufacturers have to think of exporting ethanol, or they would have to shut down factories.

The Dong Xanh factory that makes ethanol in the central province of Quang Nam, has reportedly shut down.

Dang Quoc Dung, Deputy Director of PTSC, said while many other countries in the world do not have sufficient conditions to produce clean fuel, and they have to import products for domestic use.

“Meanwhile, Vietnamese people, who can easily access biofuel, still turn their back on the kind of energy. This is really enigmatic,” he said.

Also according to Dung, the Dung Quat Ethanol factory of PTSC is now running on a trial basis with 50 percent of capacity. To date, PTSC has churned out 9000 cubic meters of ethanol, while 5500 has been sold.

Of this output, PV Oil buys 300 cubic meters to create E5 for domestic sale, while the remaining volume is exported.

At first, Dung was asked to churn out the volume of E100 big enough to create E5 fuel. However, since PV Oil only buys a small volume of E100, the factory has to export ethanol to the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.

“As such, the government plan to use clean fuel in Vietnam to protect the environment, still cannot reach its goal,” Dung said.

Compiled by Thu Uyen

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