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Petrobras plans 5 new ethanol projects

Petróleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) plans to build five new ethanol plants with the capacity to produce 1 billion liters (264 million gallons) for export to Japan under joint ventures with foreign firms. The projects are expected to be approved by the company’s board and are an integral part of its business plan, which calls for expanding ethanol exports to 4 billion liters (1.05 billion gallons) by 2012, the Petrobras executive in charge of fuel supplies, Paulo Roberto Costa, said. The plants would be “bioenergy complexes” that would both produce ethanol and meet their own energy needs by generating electricity from sugar cane residues, an arrangement that could allow them to qualify for carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, calls for industrialized nations to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5% from 1990 levels in an effort to slow global warming. Costa said, however, that it would be up to “the projects’ owners” to market any surplus electricity and carbon credits. Brazil is the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugar and ethanol from sugar cane, with output of some 30 million tons and 17.5 billion liters (4.62 billion gallons), respectively, annually. The Brazilian government has signed agreements with countries in Latin America and Africa to provide technical assistance and support for biofuels projects. (September 27, 2007)