8 September 2004

Thailand to help Philippines with ethanol program

MANILA – Thailand is willing to share its expertise with the Philippines in the commercial production of ethyl alcohol or ethanol as an alternative transport fuel. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q Pimentel Jr said Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had informed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during their meeting in Beijing on September 3 that Thailand has increased its production of ethanol to help reduce his country’s oil importation.

Both Arroyo and Thaksin were keynote speakers at the opening ceremony of the 3rd International Conference on Political Parties in the Chinese capital. Pimentel, who was invited to witness the conversation between Thaksin and Arroyo said the two heads of government agreed that their countries should exchange technical know-how in the production of ethanol and in using it as alternative fuel for motor vehicles.

“In Thailand, they have already started commercial production of ethanol. We can benefit from their expertise. They are willing to help us along this line,” the opposition senator said. Pimentel said the engines of cars will have to undergo some changes if they will use ethanol fuel to protect the steel component from corrosion.

He said if the fuel mix is 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, there is no need to change the engines. “But if the ethanol content will exceed 15% or 20%, you have to reto-fleet the engine,” Pimentel explained.

Pimentel said the Philippines has plenty of raw materials such as sugarcane, cassava, camote and corn, which can be used for ethanol production.

Pimentel filed Senate Bill 1677 seeking to establish a National Ethanol Fuel Program to be funded by the government in line with its policy of developing non-conventional indigenous and replenishable sources of energy. Only a few weeks ago, the Philippine Ethanol Alliance was launched to drum up the support of the government and the private sector in pursuing the development and utilization of ethanol as transport fuel.

The launching of the Philippine Ethanol Alliance was spearheaded by the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, Sugar Regulatory Administration and Center for Alcohol Research and Development Foundation.

Source: Asia Times Sept. 8, 2004.

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