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Eastern unit to expand cassava plantations

First Posted 05:55:00 05/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines--Eastern Renewables Fuels Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastern Petroleum Corp., plans to expand its cassava plantation to 4,500 hectares this year to meet the growing demand for biofuel, the parent company?s top official said.

The company has harvested cassava from an initial 1,000 hectares and the cassava chips will be shipped to the ethanol processing facility of its partner in China, the Guanxi State Farm Bureau, Eastern Petroleum chairman and chief executive Fernando Martinez said.

Martinez said Eastern Renewables hoped to harvest the cassava from a further 3,500 hectares by March next year.

He said that since the company had yet to set up an ethanol refining facility in the Philippines, cassava harvested from its plantations would continue to be shipped to Guanxi for processing.

?What we produce here will be for processing and consumption in China,? he said. ?But we may also consider buying back the processed ethanol, especially when the mandated blend takes effect.?

Under a biofuels law, gasoline distributed in the Philippines should have an ethanol content of at least five percent by 2009.

The mandated blend will rise to at least 10 percent four years after the implementation of the law.

Eastern Renewables has cassava plantations in the provinces of Zambales, Sarangani, Davao del Norte and South Cotabato and in General Santos City.

It is also eyeing a spot within the petrochemical park of government-owned PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. in Bataan province, where it plans to set up an ethanol production plant and depot.

?We?re also looking at some places in Subic, outside the SBMA [Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority] zone, but there?s nothing final yet,? Martinez said. With editing by INQUIRER.net

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