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Ministry prepares Lao biodiesel brand for Asean market

Vientiane Times, June 4, 2012

The Ministry of Energy and Mines’ Institute of Renewable Energy Promotion expects to have a Lao brand name biodiesel available soon and envisages exporting to the Asean market by 2025. “We feel sure that this is possible because we are making biodiesel from the fruits of both jatropha and oil palm,” the institute’s Director General, Mr Hatsady Sysoulath, said when addressing a seminar on renewable energy development last week.  “We will have our own standard biodiesel made of jatropha and this standard must be acknowledged in Asean,” Mr Hatsady said. “This will ensure we won’t face any problems when we start supplying the Asean market. This means we have to act in line with Asean regulations.”

The institute is not only encouraging the establishment of jatropha plantations in Laos, it is also setting up oil palm plantations. “Oil palms have potential for both biodiesel and cooking oil production,” Mr Hatsady said. The oil palm project is an investment by Lao Agro Tech Co Ltd, while the jatropha project is run by the Republic of Korea’s Kolao-Farm & Bio-Energy Co Ltd. Both projects are currently underway in many provinces of Laos. A palm oil processing factory will be built by the end of this year in  Naxaithong district, Vientiane, to process oil from palm plantations in Vientiane and Vientiane province. When the processing plant is built, palm fruit will be imported from Thailand for the first three years of production, after which local palm fruit will be used. “However, we will have further discussions with the investor on more details of the project,” Mr Hatsady said.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines is cooperating with Lao Agro-Tech, which plans to grow oil palms to produce a source of renewable energy, and has a similar arrangement with Kolao. Currently biodiesel (BD5) is being sold in Kaenthao district, Xayaboury province, with sales beginning a few months ago. So far over 200,000 litres have been sold. The Institute of Renewable Energy Promotion expects to have produced and sold about 2 million litres of bio-diesel (BD5) by the end of this year in cooperation with Kolao. BD5 refers to fuel that is 95 percent diesel and 5 percent bio-fuel. The main users are farmers, who are complying with the government’s policy to promote agricultural production. Bio-diesel sells for 3 percent less than ordinary diesel and the institute hopes to make it 5 to 10 percent cheaper in the near future. Kolao wants to develop the Mekong River Valley in northern Laos as the world’s largest jatropha growing area. The company has plantations in Bokeo, Xayaboury, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha provinces.

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