11 JAN 2008
Proposals by interested parties regarding ethanol production in Fiji
have been evaluated and will be submitted to the Government after the
Fiji Sugar Corporation board meeting late this month, the FSC has confirmed.
FSC general manager operations Bhan Pratap Singh says the advertisement
for the joint venture partnership agreement closed in mid-November.
It is believed three overseas companies (from Australia, India and
Japan) had undertaken discussions with the FSC last year to begin
processing ethanol from molasses.
Expressions of interest were also advertised to allow other companies
which may be interested to come in, interim Sugar Minister Mahendra
Chaudhry had said last year.
Asked whether a feasibility study on the viability of the project has
been done, Singh says the study is part of the joint venture partnership
agreement and will be done once a decision is made.
On when the construction of the ethanol plant will start, Singh says
ground works on the project can begin soon after the FSC board and the
Government approve the agreement.
"The actual construction should begin a few months later as a lot of
work is involved," he said.
Recently, members of the public called on the interim Government to
speed up ethanol production (which uses cane juice and its by products)
in light of the escalating fuel prices which is putting a lot of burden
on Fiji consumers.
The use of ethanol is expected to reduce Fiji's import bill, create jobs
and offer cheap alternative fuel to the public.
Fiji Chamber of Commerce Vice-President Swani Maharaj had earlier
complained that it has been one year and nothing has come up on ethanol
production, particularly as fuel prices continue to rise causing the
interim Government to approve increases to bus and taxi fares.
Government last year had said that there has to be an upgrade of FSC's
ageing mills first before it considers ethanol production.
A government statement this week said 75 per cent of the mill upgrading
project has been completed. The refurbishing of the mills is through
Indian Government loan to optimize capacity, improve plant efficiency
and reliability in Fiji's four sugar mills.
Meanwhile, the government says that an additional mill (Fiji's fifth)
will be set up in Seaqaqa to assist ethanol production and co-generation.
Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts: http://pacbiofuel.blogspot.com/