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Posted on  

August 24, 2000

Thailand May Allow Ethanol in Auto Fuel as Oil Prices Rise


Thailand, Asia's largest sugar exporter, may allow ethanol from sugarcane to be added to car fuel for the first time to help offset the effects of soaring gasoline prices.

The government, which faces an election in three months, is keen to ease the effect of high oil prices on voters. A fleet of more than 400 trucks gathered around the capital, Bangkok, to protest higher fuel prices.

A decision to use part of the country's sugarcane crop to make motor fuel will be taken ``as soon as possible,'' said Virat Tandaechanurat, secretary-general of Thailand's Office of the Cane and Sugar Board. ``It's the right time'' to allow ethanol use in auto fuels.

The price of crude oil, from which gasoline is made, rose above $32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, close to its highest level in more than nine years. Oil prices have risen 47 percent in a year.

Brazil, the world's second-largest sugar producer after India, is the largest user of the sugarcane by-product for fuelling automobiles.

This month Brazil decided to lower the state-set ethanol content in gasoline to 20 percent, from 24 percent, as alcohol prices surged nearly 30 percent since the beginning of June on lower sugar cane production.

"Thailand's sugarcane output is set to rise to 53.4 million tons this crop year, from about 50 million a year ago. A crop disease this year could wipe out 1 million tons and keep output little changed at about 54 million tons next year," said Virat.
 

 

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