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Indian Oil Corporation forays into green sector

Public sector oil major IOC is foraying into the bio-fuels business, report Deepak Joshi & Gaurav Choudhury.
None | By Deepak Joshi & Gaurav Choudhury, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 29, 2007 03:24 AM IST

Green is in. What with the growing concerns over environment, energy security and diminishing petroleum reserves. Public sector oil major Indian Oil Corporation seems to have woken up to the idea and is gearing up foray into bio-fuels business.

The IOC board of directors will consider on Thursday a proposal to amend the companies’ memorandum of association (MoA) to include plantation and agriculture-related activities as an initiative to have a significant presence the bio-fuel sector.

The object clause of MoA will be amended to include activities related to trading, import, export, sale and purchase of raw materials (saplings or seeds, non-edible and edible), semi-finished and finished products (biofuels and intermediaries), allied products, all related agricultural, equipment and machinery.

Besides environmental concerns, there is also a realisation that bio-fuels would give a much-needed fillip to the agriculture sector. In fact, the petroleum ministry had last year asked public sector oil marketing companies to evaluate the possibility of acquiring sugarcane acreages in Brazil and putting up ethanol manufacturing units for export to India.

Moreover, the oil companies had also been advised to consider tie-ups with Brazilian oil major Petrobras for ethanol on commercial consideration.

Biodiesel and ethanol-doped petrol are two options available for reducing dependence on fossil fuels. India imports over 70 per cent of its crude oil. Efforts are on to have 5 per cent ethanol-blended petrol available across the country.

Bio diesel is an eco-friendly fuel prepared from renewable resources like edible and non-edible vegetable oils. These biodegradable transportation fuels do not have sulphur and are low in particulate emissions.

The United States and some European countries are producing biodiesel as a transport fuel by converting surplus edible oil such as soyabean oil, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil.

Malaysia has also been producing biodiesel for some time now. However, as India is a net importer of vegetable oils, here biodiesel is sourced from non-edible oils like jatropha and karanjia.

The present demand of diesel in India is about 50 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA). If petro-diesel is to be replaced by biodiesel, the requirement of the latter will be in the vicinity of 2.5 MMT.

The Planning Commission had proposed the use of 5 per cent biodiesel by 2011-12, to be gradually raised to 10 per cent by 2017.

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