Call for more state promotion of ethanol

Call for more state promotion of ethanol

Fuel pumps at a Bangchak station supplying biodiesel B20, gasohol E20 and gasohol 91. Gasohol E20 has an ethanol blend of 20%. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Fuel pumps at a Bangchak station supplying biodiesel B20, gasohol E20 and gasohol 91. Gasohol E20 has an ethanol blend of 20%. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The Tapioca Ethanol Association is urging energy policymakers to promote more use of cassava-based ethanol in order to help motorists cope with high fuel bills, which have been driven up by the global oil price surge.

Although prices of gasoline and gasohol, a mix of gasoline and ethanol, fell by about three baht a litre last week, crude oil prices remain high, standing above US$100 a barrel, according to Thai Oil Plc, Thailand's largest oil refinery by capacity.

Last week the price of crude oil moved between $104-107 per barrel.

The Tapioca Ethanol Association said it believed global oil prices would remain at a high level as the war between Russia and Ukraine showed no sign of abating.

Sureeyot Khowsurat, chairman of the association, said ethanol's popularity had been lower than expected, even though the government has promoted it as an alternative fuel for more than a decade.

Gasohol E20 and E85 account for only 22% of fuels in the benzine segment. E20 has an ethanol blend of 20%, while E85 is composed of up to 85% ethanol.

Gasohol E10, with a mix of 10% ethanol, commands 75% of the market, while unleaded gasoline (ULG), which contains no ethanol, accounts for 3%.

The proportion of E20 and E85 in the benzine segment must increase if the government wants to help motorists better cope with the impact of the global oil price surge, said Ms Sureeyot.

Gasohol E10 is known by motorists as "Gasohol 91 and 95", which refer to their different octane rating numbers.

According to media reports, many drivers prefer Gasohol 95 to E20, although cars produced domestically have been compatible with the latter since 2008. Drivers have reasoned that engines fuelled by Gasohol 95 are more powerful.

Cars using E85 were made available 10 years ago.

According to the association, Thailand's reference price for ethanol this month is 27.5 baht per litre, compared with 47.4 baht per litre for ULG.

E10 is priced between 39 and 40 baht per litre, but is still more expensive than E20 and E85, which range from 34.4-38.9 baht per litre.

More promotion of ethanol usage is seen as not only helping people deal with the high cost of living, but also generating more revenue for farmers.

Ethanol is made from cassava and sugar, two key raw materials from the agricultural sector.

Thai Oil on Monday said that concern over falling oil exports from Libya had become the latest factor putting pressure on global oil prices.

"Investors are worried about the supply shortage in Libya due to its internal conflict, although China has locked down many areas to control Covid-19," which led to a drop in oil demand, according to the Thai Oil report.

Libya's crude oil exports have fallen to 0.8-0.9 million barrels per day, down from 1.1-1.2 million barrels per day in February and March.

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