Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Red tape stalls ethanol project

Red tape stalls ethanol project

By Gift Phiri, Senior Writer
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:25

HARARE – Bureaucracy is slowing down an ethanol project that could reduce 
the country’s reliance on imported fuel and directly employ 7 000 people, 
the Daily News has learnt.

Cash-strapped Zimbabwe is a net importer of finished petroleum products, yet 
government is taking ages to okay a policy proposal to boost sales of the 30 
percent cheaper and environmentally friendly blended petrol, E10, produced 
at Zimbabwe’s first green fuel plant in Chisumbanje — 500km south of Harare.

The Daily News understands Green Fuel (Pvt) Limited — a $600 million joint 
venture between state-run Arda and a group of private investors — has asked 
government, which has given Green Fuel national project status, to introduce 
a mandatory blending policy — a decision to make blending of ethanol and 
petrol compulsory as an import substitution measure.

Green Fuel says a mandatory blending policy dovetails with government’s 
medium term economic blueprint which stipulates that Zimbabwe should 
“promote and use renewable energy including ethanol blending”.

Green Fuel produces ethanol from sugar cane. By-products include electricity 
enough to light up Manicaland province and stock feed.

Currently, conventional bulk petroleum companies’ facilities and retail 
filling stations are designed for petrol and diesel only and the 
introduction of blended petrol is posing logistical problems to the 
operators of service stations and petroleum companies.

Fuel companies have raised concerns that they need to allocate a third pump 
for the blended petrol, separate tanks, as well as separate transport 
carriers for the ethanol.

The almost 400 filling stations in Zimbabwe have been reluctant to incur 
what they perceive as additional costs to modify or upgrade their existing 
pumping and storage facilities.

But if government approves mandatory blending and makes it obligatory for 
the bulk of petrol sold in Zimbabwe to be blended petrol, there will be no 
need to modify facilities at filling stations, a move that will also 
significantly slash government’s fuel import cost.

The Daily News heard that by the end of January, Green Fuel had produced 10 
million litres of ethanol, which is currently sitting in storage facilities 
around the country.

So far, only 105 000 litres has been sold, just above 1 percent of the total 
ethanol produced, meaning  Green Fuel is producing more fuel that it can 
sell because of the facilities’ crisis at filling stations and other bulk 
petroleum companies.


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