DOE targets hike in biodiesel blend to B5 this year

Published February 5, 2021, 8:30 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Department of Energy (DOE) is targeting to increase to 5.0-percent by volume the biodiesel blend in petroleum products, citing the sufficiency of supply to meet such policy prescription.

That was sounded off by Energy Assistant Secretary Leonido J. Pulido III during the international symposium of the Japan Cooperation Center Petroleum (JCCP), in which he fleshed out the continuing implementation of the Philippines’ biofuels program.

The current biodiesel blend is at 2.0-percent; while the ethanol blend is at 10-percent by volume. Of the two, it is the hike in biodiesel blend that is being aggressively pushed because domestic production would be able to satiate demand.

The energy official noted that the total rated production capacity of the 13 accredited biodiesel producers in the country would hover at 707.9 million liters per year, which in tangible terms could redound to more than 300-percent of the required B2 volume.

“This indicates that there is more than enough capacity to meet the proposed increase in the biodiesel blend from B2 to B5, should it be pursued this year,” Pulido stressed.

He emphasized that additional capacities with a total of 277.65 million liters will be on stream between this year to 2022, hence, this could securely underpin the oil industry’s need for higher volume of biodiesel mix.

The DOE cannot categorically state though if the hike in biodiesel, which generally leans on coco methyl ester (CME), will be concretized within the year — given that the oil industry is still hobbled by the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pulido narrated that the plan on the higher B5 blend had been cast as early as last year, but the enforcement was also snagged because of the health crisis.

As culled from the long-term Philippine Biofuels Roadmap, the energy department intended to increase the country’s biodiesel blend to 5.0-percent last year, but Pulido reiterated “the pandemic adversely affected this target given the absence of assurance on the sufficiency of biodiesel supply.”

Beyond that, he likewise cited the “emergence of logistical limitations, particularly in transporting biodiesel to the regions where it would be blended.”

For ethanol, the energy official qualified that “there is no immediate plan to increase the blend,” and the longer term plan to double the mixture to 20-percent may only come by year 2040.

There had been predicaments on sourcing of domestically produced bioethanol, and as deemed by government leaders, it would not be prudent to plug supply gap with importation because the value-added proposition to Filipino farmers cannot be attained through that option.

The country’s biofuels program, according to Pulido, “is an ongoing effort which is not without its challenges. But we are hopeful that with continued improvements, the program would ultimately help the Philippines decrease its dependence on fossil fuels as we transition towards a more sustainable energy future.”