Renewable Fuels

Colombia posts 7% growth in ethanol production

Colombia posts 7% growth in ethanol production
Photo courtesy of Andres Garzon [<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0">CC BY 2.0</a>], <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACana_de_azucar_valle_del_cauca.jpg">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Colombia produced 435 million litres of ethanol in 2015, up 7% from 406 million litres a year ago, according to statistics released by the Bogota-based trade group Biofuels Federation.

The increase in production was attributed to the completion in October of the 400,000-litre-per-day Riopaila plant in southwestern Valle de Cauca province, boosting Colombia’s installed capacity by about 30% to 1.75 million litres per day.

That in turn allowed Colombia to raise the mandated ethanol content in gasoline to 10% by volume, from 8%. But weeks after the plant’s completion, the minimum ethanol blending requirement was reduced again to 8% as the government closed the border with Venezuela to vehicle traffic to reduce the trafficking of gasoline being produced in Venezuela.

The reduced availability of the black market fuel from Venezuela meant that Colombia’s largest refiner, state-controlled Ecopetrol, had to step in to supply gasoline in eastern border provinces.

Nevertheless, it is expected that Colombia will once again raise the ethanol-blending requirement this year to 10%. The long-delayed Bioenergia ethanol plant in eastern Meta province, which is being built by Ecopetrol, could add 480,000 litres per day to the ethanol supply once completed. Further, an ethanol plant that will utilize manioc plants as feedstock is being planned by a Colombian-Swedish consortium called GPC. The USD 100 million facility in eastern Colombia may become operational this year, once manioc yields at farms owned by the consortium become economically feasible. Currently, all of Colombia’s ethanol is produced from sugar cane.

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