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DOE mulls suspension of e-10 as shortage in bioethanol looms

Locally produced bioethanol uses sugarcane means BUSINESS

MANILA - A shortage of bioethanol looms next month, as the Department of Energy (DOE) mulls suspending the Biofuels Law.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said oil companies have reported delays in delivery of bioethanol imports. Given this, oil companies have asked the DOE to suspend the required 10 percent blend of bioethanol in fuel products sold in the local market to ease the impact of any shortage.

"We need to find out to what extent this shortage is. They say by mid-February we'll have a problem," said Petilla, adding that the department would look into the actual demand-supply condition not only in the domestic market, but also in the international market.

"We will look into the legalities of suspending the law. The spirit of the law is to make sure indigenous supply is used. It was never to constrain supply," he said.

Under the law, oil companies should tap domestic supply of bioethanol. Local manufacturers however remain short of oil companies' requirements, thus they resort to imports.

Zenaida Monsada, director of the DOE-Oil Management Bureau, said the reported tightness in the market may be due to rising demand in other countries that have increased their bioethanol blend.

She cited Thailand as among the countries that imposed the e-10, referring to a bioethanol blend of 10 percent in fuel products.

"May mga nag-default daw na importers. May impending shortage. Ibe-verify namin," said Monsada.

She said removing the 10 percent bioethanol should pose no problem for motorists so long as they drain their gasoline tanks of what remains of the blended fuel before refueling.