Colombia to have six palm biodiesel plants by 2009

by Dave

Colombia, the leading producer of palm oil in the Americas, will have six palm biodiesel plants by next year and plans to increase its share of the biofuels market, sources from the sector said

In an interview Friday with Efe, the president of Colombian palm oil producer Comercializadora Internacional Acepalma, Maria Emma Núñez, said that four of these six plants have already begun operating, but that production will be stepped up next year and the other two plants will also come on stream.

“At this time, (palm oil production) is destined for processing plants to make cooking oil, margarine and soaps, and there has been a little this year for the biodiesel plants, but by next year a significant percentage of production will be destined for the biodiesel plants,” she said.

On the sidelines of a meeting on sustainable palm oil that ended Friday in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena, Núñez said that this year just a small percentage of palm oil output was destined for biofuels production “because the plants have not begun to function fully.”

She also said that the export markets for palm oil will continue to be affected by the current financial crisis and noted that the price of the vegetable oil has plunged from $1,400 per ton a few months ago to some $525 per ton at present.

Núñez said that lower price was due to several reasons: “high inventories in Malaysia and Indonesia, market expectations related to the financial crisis and the reduction in oil prices.”

She added that Colombian production of palm oil is expected to rise from 806,000 tons in 2008 to some 872,000 tons next year.

Of the current production, some 46 percent is destined for export, primarily to the Netherlands, Germany and England in Europe, as well as to Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil, Peru, Argentina and the United States in the Americas.