Java and Sumatra targeted for mandatory biofuel use

Ika Krismantari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To encourage the use of environmentally friendly fuel, the government is considering a regulation that will make the use of biofuel mandatory, particularly in Java and Sumatra, an official said Saturday.

Evita H. Legowo, the first secretary of the National Biofuel Development Committee, told The Jakarta Post the committee was conducting a study to determine how the regulation could be applied.

"We picked Java and Sumatra, given the fact there are several biofuel projects on these two islands," she said.

"We will start in Java and Sumatra, but will also move to other places."

She said the team was currently discussing plans with the Coordinating Minister for Economy and the Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare.

Producers of biofuel have long demanded the government make the use of biofuel compulsory to boost the eco-friendly fuel business.

State oil and gas firm PT Pertamina says it might scrap its biofuel business by the end of this year, as its biofuel products -- BioSolar and BioPremium -- caused the company to suffer Rp 16.9 billion (US$1.8 million) in losses last year due to the high prices of raw materials, namely ethanol and crude palm oil.

Paulus Tjakrawan, a member of the Indonesian Biofuel Producers Association, told the Post over the weekend Indonesia should consider the regulation applied by the Philippines government, which helped increase biofuel energy use in the country.

"It would be very helpful if the government decided 1 percent of the total fuel used in the country should be biofuel ... this will amount to an estimated 30 million kiloliters of biofuel," he said.

Paulus was referring to the Philippines' regulation that requires every factory and vehicle in the Philippines to use at least 1 percent of biofuel out of their total fuel consumption.
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