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Energy Minister, Clive Mullings, has said that Jamaica stands to benefit significantly from the introduction of the E10 blend of petroleum, come November 1.
The E10 is gasoline blended with 10 per cent ethanol derived from sugar cane. It will be officially launched at the PETCOM Portmore service station in St. Catherine, on November 1.
The roll out forms part of efforts to reduce the country’s dependence on methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) petroleum products, which are produced from fossil fuels. It will also reduce the country’s energy bill, and provide other benefits.
Details of the planned roll out were announced at a press conference at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston on October 23.
Speaking at the briefing, Mr. Mullings said there are economic benefits to be derived, as a result of what the anticipated savings on fuel expenditure, relative to consumption.
“In 2007, Jamaica’s gasoline consumption for 87 and 90 blends (of MTBE fuels), reached 4.1 million barrels of oil at a cost of US$267.2 million. By 2010, the estimated cost reduction from moving from MTBE is expected to be approximately US$52 million,” Mr. Mullings outlined.
Against this background, the Minister said Jamaica would not only be able to “face” the challenges associated with the oil crisis, but would be provided with a platform for growth, “as we are able now, to retain more US dollars.”
The Minister noted that the environment also stands to benefit from the introduction of the ethanol fuel blend, as there would be a 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; a 30 per cent reduction in vehicular tailpipe monoxide emissions; and as much as a 50 per cent reduction in particulate emissions.
“Ethanol is considered a suitable replacement for MTBE, because of its energy content, lack of sulphur, and negligible matter,” he explained.
Other benefits include its superior efficiency over that produced from corn; and the compatibility of the island’s current fleet of vehicles with ethanol-based fuel. In this regard, he said there would be no need to replace any of these units.
“We have the capacity to produce enough ethanol to fuel motor vehicles, and the E10 is just the first phase of our implementation. We anticipate that by 2010, we will be able to produce some 70 million litres of ethanol from one million tonnes of sugar cane, with an annual production capacity of 73.73 million litres,” he pointed out.
The Minister stressed that while the production of E10 would be cheaper, and while oil prices are on the decrease, these are not signals for energy conservation measures to be abandoned.
“I believe that is a real challenge that we face. Because, as oil prices trend down, and as you see it reflected in the pumps, our concern at the Ministry is that you will think that the crisis is over, and we can proceed as before. We cannot, we must be judicious, we must be wise, we must be prudent. This E10 introduction is an opportunity, which allows us to have more disposable income,” he said.
Initially, E10 will be available, mainly at service stations in the eastern end of the island during the first phase of introduction. It will eventually become available in the western end of the island, consequent on the completion of a facility, currently under construction in Montego Bay, St. James, which would allow for the distribution of the product in that region.