Austrian firms may set up biodiesel businesses here

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

At least three Austrian companies are investigating the possibility of becoming involved in the "green energy" business here to help boost the development of biodiesel.

"Energea, BioDiesel International and the Christof Group are discussing the biodiesel business with a number of leading Indonesian agribusiness companies," Austrian Commercial Counsellor Raymund Gradt told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

"The three Austrian companies could provide the technology to build biodiesel refineries jointly with local firms," he said.

He declined, however, to name their Indonesian counterparts as the two sides had been in discussions for more than a year, but had yet to reach finalize any deals.

The three Austrian companies are leading technology solution providers for biodiesel production and currently produce a total of 440,000 tons of biodiesel per annum, more than half of their country's annual demand of around 700,000-800,000 tons.

They are on a mission to leverage biodiesel production in connection with the European Union's program of increasing the contribution of green energy -- biodiesel and biofuel -- from 3.4 percent this year to 20 percent in 2020.

Austria, whose green-energy share already stands at 21 percent, wants to double this to 40 percent by then.

"Certain Austrian companies are also interested in acquiring biodiesel from Indonesia and are looking into the possibility of using jatropha as a raw material. This is because it's cheaper than palm oil, and can be used both in winter and summer," Gradt said, will refraining from naming the companies.

Austrian companies were also sounding out the possibility of building biodiesel refineries in other countries besides Indonesia, and also acquiring jatropha from them. Malaysia, India and Egypt were potential candidates in this regard.

The Austrian government would also hold symposiums on biodiesel and renewable energy in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia on Nov. 26-27, Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, respectively, so as to clinch partnerships in the green sector.

Gradt said that between five and eight Austrian companies, and a number of research institutes, such as the Biodiesel Institute and the Austrian Energy Agency, and universities, as well as Indonesian businesses, research institutes and universities, were expected to attend the Indonesian symposium.

Currently, a number of foreign companies have already committed to establishing bioenergy businesses here.

China's biggest energy firm, CNOOC, signed an agreement early this year to team up with Indonesia's Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology, and Hong Kong Energy, to develop 1 million hectares of plantations and refineries worth US$5.5 billion in Papua and Kalimantan.

Malaysia-based Genting Biofuels Asia has also pledged to invest $3 billion in green energy, and a joint Indonesian-Malaysian venture $1 billion. (06)
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