9 Oktober 2007

Kazakhs Launch Attempt to Become Leading EU Biofuels Supplier

With the European Union demanding that biofuels make up 5.75% of overall transport fuel supply in each member state by 2010, Kazakhstan is making a bid to become a major supplier to European markets, according to a Kazakh government press release issued Wednesday.

Kazakhstan should produce up to 1 billion liters of biofuel by 2010 by reprocessing the country’s high-quality grain. “Ultimately, Kazakhstan may produce between 3 and 6 billion liters of biofuel annually, which will enable us to join the club of leading producers and exporters,” Berik Ospanov, head of the Agroindustry Development and Agrarian Studies at the Ministry of Agriculture in Astana, was quoted as saying.

By some reckonings, Kazakhstan-produced biofuel could be 10% cheaper than that produced in Brazil—and up to half the price of biofuel produced in the US and the EU, the release said.

In 2006, Kazakhstan launched the first bioethanol plant in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which groups Russia and a number of other former Soviet states. Called Biohim, the plant is privately owned by Russian Titan and Kazakh TOO Basko.

Biohim has a current bioethanol production capacity of 57,000 metric tons per year. The company intends to build three more plants in Kazakhstan to produce fuel from wheat and other crops.

To further boost manufacturing of biofuel and respond to rising international demand, Kazakhstan is in the process of adopting biofuel legislation. Meeting last week with Kazakh farmers, President Nursultan Nazarbayev said, “We are to pass a bill on biofuel to define, among other things, the number of biofuel-producing plants. The global demand for biofuel is on the rise, notably for bioethanol. We have a lot of farm crops—notably colza—the surplus of which could be used for producing biofuel.”

The OECD last week released a report criticizing the EU for providing subsidies for biofuels as part of its plan to combat greenhouse house gas emissions. The organization said subsidies could result in rising food prices and damage to forests and wetlands, while having only a minimal impact on climate change.

(Cf. news of 2005-05-18.)

Source: Russian National Biofuels Association-Newsletter vom 2007-10-08.

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