Monday, May 14, 2007

Fiji Ethanol production long way off: FSC


Monday May 14, 2007
The Fiji Sugar Corporation says a lot of work has yet to be put into
ethanol production and it may be several years before Fiji is likely to
see this project off the ground and in full production.

"There are simply too many questions and grey areas that need
clarification before a decision can be made," FSC chief executive
officer Abdul Shamsher says.

He was responding to a statement by Dr. Peter Baron, the executive
director international sugar organisation at the 10th ACP Ministerial
Conference last month who said that ethanol could be a huge potential
for Fiji to explore as its increase in demand worldwide creates
significant opportunities for the sugar cane industry.

Shamsher says the subject was first explored by the FSC in the 1980s but
the idea was shelved due to various circumstances prevailing at that time,

Interest in ethanol production was revived again about 2-3 years ago
with the announcement of severe price cuts for Fiji's sugar sales to the
European Union (up to 37 per cent by 2009) and the trend in increasing
fuel prices.

For its part, Government has also shown support for an ethanol
production project using cane juice and its by-products.

A national Biofuel Subcommittee was established some 2-3 years ago with
FSC represented on this.

The need for a detailed feasibility/viability study to be carried out by
a professional and competent consultant in this field is being addressed
by the Government, Shamsher says.

A draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the study was done in mid 2006.

"We understand that the government was then considering engaging the
World Bank to carry out the study."

Shamsher says the ethanol project is being considered by the FSC as part
of its diversification effort to make the sugar industry viable when it
has to compete globally under a much reduced world market price in a few
years. It would also reduce the expenditure for fuel import.

Meanwhile, the FSC is working on strategies to arrest problems facing
the country's sugar industry including reduction in sugar prices, expiry
of sugar cane land leases and the pressure for increased productivity in
order to compete globally.

Shamsher says the FSC is currently implementing a Cane Development Plan
in order to boost sugar crop production from the current 3 million to 4
million tonnes by 2010.

It is also working with government and the Native Land Trust Board
(NLTB) to resolve the land lease problems.

"Plant capacity and reliability is an area we are also addressing to
better our operation efficiencies through our current factory upgrade
project with the Sugar Technology Mission of India," says Shamsher.

Other areas being pursued is diversification where ethanol and
cogeneration are the first two major areas currently been explored," he


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