SEAOIL blazes ahead in alternative fuels

Local biofuel pioneer SEAOIL Philippines Inc. is stepping on the pedal in its bid to develop and commercialize the cheapest and most environment-friendly transport fuel in the country - ethanol-blended gasoline.

At a time of record-high petroleum prices, which are not expected to significantly ease next year as global oil demand heightens due to continued geopolitical risk factors and increased usage in the sizzling economies of China and India, the use of alternative fuels is starting to gain immense popularity around the world, with governments encouraging investments and the shift toward biofuels.

In the Philippines, SEAOIL not only initiated the use of ethanol-blended gasoline; it is also investing and continuing research on alternative fuel technology to keep up with the global trend.

Alternative fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, and automotive LPG are co-called since they are mixed or totally replace gasoline or diesel to power up motor vehicles, industrial machines or electricity plants.

Ethanol or ethyl alcohol, derived from sugarcane or corn, is a common form of biofuel now widely used in Brazil and the US. Under the Biofuels Act of 2006, the Philippine government is mandating the use of at least 5% blend of ethanol in gasoline sold and distributed by each oil firm two years after the law's implementation or by 2009. The ethanol blend will be increased to a minimum 10% by volume within four years.

But SEAOIL, for its part, has pioneered the use of ethanol as a gasoline blend in the country when it offered its first ethanol-blended gasoline or E10 in selected retail stations in Metro Manila on August 2005 - two years before the law even took effect.

Today, SEAOIL's network station across the country offers a 10% blend of ethanol on all its gasoline products, making it the only oil company to be able to offer fuel ethanol in the country.

"The company continues to explore economical substitutes to the Filipino people as well as to push for alternative fuels in support of advancing energy independence. The company's aggressiveness in developing environment-friendly and alternative fuels will help it achieve its goal of becoming number one in biofuels," SEAOIL president and CEO Francis Glenn Yu said.

He said the company has invested in Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) fuel analysers IROX 2000 for gasoline/bio-ethanol, and the IROX Diesel for diesel/ biodiesel to ensure the highest standard of quality and compliance with the Biofuels Act and Philippine National Standards (PNS) of its fuel products.

"Being the leader in biofuels, SEAOIL is the first company in the industry that has invested in the instruments and the technology," Yu pointed out.

On the domestic front, the increase in wholesale pump prices of gasoline and diesel were more subdued during the 11-month period, rising by 23 percent to P42.25 per liter for gasoline and 16 percent to P37.07 per liter for diesel.

He said as a result of SEAOIL's ethanol-blended gasoline, the company was able to sell regular gasoline in all its retail outlets nationwide at a P2 per liter discount.