Oscarline Onwuemenyi, with agency reports
14 September 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – One of Nigeria’s biggest crude importers, China, plans to use bioethanol gasoline nationwide by 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission, and National Energy Administration (NEA) said on Wednesday.
Only last month, India’s Hindustan Petroleum Corporation is considering dumping Nigeria’s sweet crude for oil from the United States, a move that could deal a heavy blow to Nigeria’s ability to sell its crude.
This is coming less than three years after the Americans stopped imports of Nigerian oil. After the US stopped the purchase of Nigerian oil under former President Barack Obama, Nigeria turned to Asia, particularly India and China for oil sale.
India is biggest buyer of Nigeria’s crude oil, importing as much at 745,000 barrels in May 2015. In 2015-16, India imported nearly 23.7 MMT of crude (nearly 12% of India overall imports) and over 2 MMTPA of LNG from Nigeria, according to Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“The plan was unveiled as the country is pushing the use of biofuel, which is renewable, applicable, tech-savvy and environmental-friendly. It is an ideal alternative to fossil fuel,” a senior NEA official said.
Ethanol fuel, known as E10, contains 10 per cent of ethanol. It is commonly used worldwide since it is believed to cut carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emissions and help ease the energy supply bottleneck.
More than 40 countries and regions consume about 600 million tonnes of ethanol fuel every year, accounting for around 60 per cent of the world’s annual gasoline use.
China is the world’s third-largest bioethanol producer and uses nearly 2.6 million tonnes a year. Gasoline blended with ethanol accounts for one-fifth of its annual gasoline consumption.
According to the plan, China aims to build an advanced liquid biofuel system and put into operation a demonstration facility that will be able to produce 50,000 tonnes of cellulosic ethanol per annum by 2020.
China launched corn-to-ethanol pilot programmes in 2004 as part of efforts to cut emissions and advance new energy.
China banned the use of grain for ethanol production in 2007 to ensure sufficient food supply, and biofuel manufacturers have since turned to sweet potatoes, sorghum and straw stalks instead.
The country later lifted the ban in 11 provinces including Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces in the northeast, Henan and Hebei provinces in the north, Anhui, Shandong.
It lifted the ban also in Jiangsu provinces in the east, the central province of Hubei, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the southwest.
Guangxi is the first Chinese locality to commercially produce ethanol with cassava instead of grain.
The latest plan is also part of the effort to ease oversupply of aging corn.
The plan echoes the country’s decision to consider a timetable to phase out production and sales of fossil fuel cars to cut emissions, reduce pollution and save fossil fuel energy.