Brazil Puts Biodiesel in the Tank

     Brazil Puts 
Biodiesel in the Tank

    While developed nations
    around the world are working on
    diversifying 10 to 20 percent of their energy sources, in Brazil,
    41 percent of the energy sources are renewable (14 percent is hydro
    and 27 percent is biomass, with sugarcane growing fast). Petroleum
    represents 43 percent and natural gas 7.6 percent of the used energy.
    by: Nielmar
    de Oliveira

    The executive secretary of the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, Maria
    das Graças Foster, reports that in November Brazil will begin adding
    2 percent biodiesel to diesel fuel, making it another source in Brazil’s energy

    Foster declared that the
    government is aware of the importance of petroleum and gas as an energy source,
    and in the provenience of taxes and income at the federal, state and municipal

    But she pointed out that
    the supply situation today is extremely worrisome, even though Brazil should
    be self-sufficient in petroleum by the year 2006.

    "Compared to the
    last petroleum crisis, in 1990, today the situation is much more delicate.
    In 1990, the difference between demand and supply was running at around 10
    percent. Today it hovers at 3 percent.

    "What that means
    is that we have world demand at around 78 million barrels per day, while the
    available supply is only 80 million barrels per day. That is a very tight
    fit," she declared.

    Today developed nations
    are working on diversifying 10 percent to 20 percent of their energy sources,
    says Foster, while Brazil already has a much more diversified scheme: 41 percent
    of Brazil’s energy sources are renewable (14 percent is hydro and 27 percent
    is biomass, with sugarcane growing fast). Petroleum provides 43 percent and
    natural gas 7.6 percent.

    Sugarcane Fuel

    Foster also says that
    the Brazilian government is hard at work to transform the country into a significant
    exporter of its sugarcane-based fuel, which is actually a form of ethanol,
    but is called alcohol in Brazil. At the same time an effort is being made
    to increase the domestic use of the product, she reports.

    "At the last world
    conference on petroleum, which took place in Germany, it was clear that our
    sugarcane-based fuel is an attractive trade product for Brazil. The country
    is seen as a supplier, a big potential exporter, one that is preferred by
    large nations who face the task of diversifying their energy sources,"
    declared Foster.

    Brazil and US

    Last April, Minister of
    Mines and Energy, Dilma Rousseff, and Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso
    Amorim, met with the US secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham in Brasília.

    At that time Brazil talked
    about its interest in using sugarcane-based ethanol to generate electricity
    and discussed a bilateral cooperation agreement with Abraham for studies on
    the development of not only ethanol and biomass fuels, but a hydrogen fuel.

    "We would like to
    have a workshop this year on biomass with the Americans," said Rousseff,
    adding that, "The long-term goal is to develop a hydrogen fuel because
    it is the most efficient and least polluting."

    But, she pointed out,
    it will probably take 20 years to put a viable hydrogen fuel on the market
    to substitute natural gas, diesel and gasoline in power plants and vehicles.

    At the moment, said the
    minister, a timetable is being drawn up for research and technological exchange
    programs between the US and Brazil.

    Nielmar de Oliveira works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
    agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at

    from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett

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