Senator Imee Marcos has urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to mandate an increase in the bioethanol content of gasoline and diesel to bring down fuel prices. “While lawmakers are stuck in debate over a fuel excise tax suspension, increasing bioethanol content is the clear way forward to give some relief to consumers,” Marcos said.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs warned that Tuesday’s price hikes of Php2.70 and Php6.55 per liter of gasoline and diesel will not be the last, as Western sanctions on Russian oil exports and limited increases in Middle East supply will make world prices volatile until next year.
The Biofuels Act of 2006 requires oil companies to produce a gasoline blend with at least 10% bioethanol, but Marcos said the National Biofuels Board can recommend an increase in the minimum requirement, subject to the DOE secretary’s approval.
Based on fuel costs before the latest price hike, Marcos estimated that the price of gasoline can be brought down by about Php3.60 per liter if bioethanol content is increased to 15% up to 20% – the level deemed safe for vehicles of model years 2001 or later.
Marcos also called on the Department of Agriculture to promote farming for bioethanol production that will address not just limited local supply and high fuel prices but also expand rural employment and the use of green energy.
Local production of bioethanol satisfied only about half of demand in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down investment in facilities for bioethanol production.
While sugarcane, sorghum, corn, and cassava can be grown in the country to produce bioethanol, the local supply deficit is covered by imports from the U.S., Australia, and South Korea.
“So much government land remains idle but can be used to increase bioethanol production. The goal is to become more competitive with cheaper imports and ensure our self-sufficiency,” Marcos said.(PR)