Monday, March 17, 2008

Bronzeoak, PetroVietnam unit to build bioethanol plant

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 14 -- The UK's Bronzeoak Group entered into an agreement with PetroVietnam Tourism & Service Co. (Petrosetco), an affiliate of state-owned Vietnam Oil & Gas Corp., to build a bioethanol production plant in the Dung Quat Economic Zone of Quang Ngai province.

Provincial chairman Nguyen Xuan Hue approved the joint plan, valued at $138 million, which will see construction of a facility able to produce some 150 million l/year of ethanol from about 1 million tons/year of cassava.

The factory will be developed on 30-50 hectares, and products will be supplied to the local market for the manufacturing and transport sectors. Petrosetco will hold a 51% stake and Bronzeoak 49%.

In July 2007, BP PLC said it would support Bronzeoak's development program of large scale bioethanol production facilities throughout Southeast Asia and Africa by investing in selected projects as well as contributing its knowledge and network of downstream operations to help accelerate the program.

"BP's support will provide a great boost to our program and allow us to accelerate our development activities during the next 5 years," said Graham Stowell, Bronzeoak managing director.

Last March, Petrosetco and Japan's Itochu Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint venture for the construction of a bioethanol production plant in Vietnam using tapioca chips to produce 100 million l/year of 99.8% pure ethanol for use in manufacturing and transport.

According to the two partners, the factory will be built in Ho Chi Minh City's Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park, with production expected to start in first quarter 2009. Construction on the project, expected to cost $80-100 million, is due to begin this quarter.

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