E20 set to be leading fuel by July 2021

E20 set to be leading fuel by July 2021

A worker wears a protective mask at a Bangchak petrol station. Officials want E20, a mix of 20% ethanol and 80% unleaded gasoline 95, to gradually replace gasohol 91. Somchai Poomlard
A worker wears a protective mask at a Bangchak petrol station. Officials want E20, a mix of 20% ethanol and 80% unleaded gasoline 95, to gradually replace gasohol 91. Somchai Poomlard

A long-delayed plan to make gasohol E20 a leading fuel for motorists should eventually come into effect in July next year to promote fuel with a higher level of ethanol blend, according to the Department of Energy Business.

Officials want E20, a mix of 20% ethanol and 80% unleaded gasoline 95, to gradually replace gasohol 91, making gasohol 95 an alternative fuel for drivers, said department chief Nantika Thangsuphanich.

Gasohol 91 and 95 have a 10% ethanol blend. They differ in their octane rating numbers.

Ms Nantika said her department is planning to discuss with oil traders, oil refinery operators and car assemblers to prepare for a shift to E20.

Introduced a decade ago when the global oil price rose to US$100 per barrel, E20 is aimed to help sugar cane and cassava farmers have a bigger role in the Thai oil market because ethanol is made from molasses and cassava.

The plan to make E20 a primary petrol faced several delays this year because the government needs ethanol to make hand sanitiser which became scarce when Covid-19 hit Thailand earlier this year.

To produce hand sanitiser, ethanol must first go through detoxification.

Now, Ms Nantika said, there is enough hand gel to meet demand, so 2021 will be the right time to give more weight to biofuels.

According to the department, demand for E20 from January to October declined slightly by 0.3% to 6.4 million litres per day (MLD), down from 6.5 MLD in the same period last year.

E20 sales account for 20% of the petrol and gasohol market, with total demand for oil fuel standing at 31.3 MLD.

With the state policy to use crops as raw materials to mix with oil, officials expect demand for ethanol will double to 8 MLD from 4 MLD within 2036.

"We want to increase the prices of agricultural commodities like sugar, cassava and palm oil by using them as biofuels," said Ms Nantika.

The move to make E20 a leading fuel among motorists follows a similar action for biodiesel. In January the government announced B10, a mix of 10% palm oil-made methyl ester and 90% diesel, as the primary diesel to replace B7, with a 7% methyl ester blend.

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