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01.09.2005 General News

Bio fuel implementation committee inaugurated


Accra, Sept. 1, GNA - Professor Mike Oquaye, Minister of Energy, on Wednesday said Ghana's crude oil bill was likely to exceed 800 million dollars by the end of 2005.

Last year the Government spent 775 million dollars on oil imports, which was about 28 per cent of export earnings, he said this in Accra when he inaugurated a 22-member implementation committee for the development of bio- fuel.

Ghana is compelled to hasten her plans to produce bio-fuel in commercial quantities as a result of escalating world crude oil prices, which hit 70 dollars per barrel this week.

The world price had risen by more than 200 per cent in the past three years from 24 dollars a barrel in 2002.

Prof. Oquaye said: "The escalating world oil market prices have serious repercussion on national developmental efforts. "...This situation calls for frantic effort to ensure the reduction of fossil based fuel use in the country."

Prof Oquaye described the inauguration of the committee as timely and said the Government would create the enabling environment in terms of favourable fiscal and regulatory regimes to ensure effective private sector participation in the development of viable substitutes to fossil fuel within the shortest time.

Bio-fuel is produced in the form of bio diesel and bio alcohol and is renewable energy resource extracted from crops like soyabeans, sugarcane, corn, rapeseed, palm nut, cottonseed, sunflower and Jatropha among other sources.

Countries that have made inroads into the production of bio-fuels include Brazil, Malaysia and Mali.

The European Union has the current largest bio-fuel industry with directives to members states to set indicative targets or bio-fuels sales of two per cent in 2005 and 5.75 per cent by 2010. The directive is expected to create a market demand of 10.5 billion litres (approximately 9.5 million tonnes) of bio diesel by 2010. Prof Oquaye said Ghana was fortunate to have favourable climatic and soil conditions for most of the crops used in the production of bio-fuel.

He said most vehicle manufacturers warranties extended to a five per cent to 10 per cent bio diesel and regular diesel blend. The mixture, he said, required neither investment in new distribution infrastructure nor the redesign of motor vehicles. The Minister mentioned some of the advantages of bio fuels including low carbon monoxide emissions and urged the committee to live up to expectation by developing the required policy.

The committee is also expected to come out with guidelines to facilitate and regulate regimes for the production of bio-fuel with emphasis on liquid bio fuels such as bio diesel and bio alcohol as substitute for diesel and petrol.