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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 The Star
 Government approves 20 bio-diesel projects this year

8/6/06 (The Star)  -  KUALA LUMPUR: The government is taking steps to promote the research and development as well as utilisation of alternative fuels in Malaysia, including a RM1.9bil investment for bio-diesel projects this year as at June 1, according to Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

Husni said the government had approved 20 of the 27 bio-diesel projects submitted for authorisation so far, this year, in addition to the six approved in 2005.

He told a media conference at the PetrolWorld Asia Conference 2006 here yesterday that the government would be investing a combined RM2.43bil for bio-diesel projects for 2005 and 2006, with RM423.5mil invested in 2005. “These projects are at various stages of development, and bio-diesel infrastructure would be enhanced under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. There would be upgrading of facilities,” said Husni.

He said Malaysia had sufficient raw materials like palm oil and the government had taken viable research steps into consideration. Government vehicles would lead the country's usage of bio-diesel once utilisation were possible, though it was not easy to pinpoint when bio-diesel would be ready for use.

He added that a proportion of the bio-diesel could be exported as Malaysia was a “trading nation”. 

Meanwhile, PetrolWorld president David Egan said the research in and usage of bio-diesel was now a global phenomenon as countries were trying to find alternatives to petrol. “Brazil has been one of the most successful implementers of sugar-processed fuels of late, but for Malaysia, the obvious raw material would be palm oil,” Egan said.

He said environmental issues would also be a major concern which researchers of bio-diesel and potential users would need to consider, but added that at this juncture it was still unclear how Malaysian petrol players would market bio-diesel if it were made available to the public.

Egan said the PetrolWorld conference would serve as an international platform for interaction in Asia on the dynamics of change in petrol retail and fuel distribution.

“The other objective of the event is to discuss the various innovations being made in petroleum retailing and to identify opportunities for various stakeholders in meeting consumers' growing demand for a cleaner, more reliable and efficient energy supply,” he said. 

At present, Malaysia is ranked 13th largest in the world in natural gas reserves, and also has the 24th largest crude oil reserves.

Petrol products and petrochemicals contributed a total investment of RM55bil as at end-2005, with 63% of that coming from domestic investments, with Petroliam Nasional Bhd as a major investor.

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