13/12/05 (The Star) - MALAYSIA'S pioneer biodiesel players – Golden Hope Plantations Bhd (GHope), Kumpulan Fima Bhd and Carotino Sdn Bhd – yesterday expressed strong confidence in their partnerships with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to produce biodiesel.
The three companies signed agreements on joint-venture plants with MPOB in Putrajaya yesterday, witnessed by the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui and Golden Hope chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.
The biodiesel plants – two in Klang and one in Pasir Gudang, Johor – are estimated to cost about RM40mil each with a combined production capacity of 180,000 tonnes (60,000 tonnes each) per year and targeted mainly for export.
GHope group chief executive Datuk Sabri Ahmad told reporters after the signing ceremony that its joint plant in Banting, Klang, will be managed by its subsidiary, Rubiatech Sdn Bhd, and slated for commissioning next year.
Datuk Sabri Ahmad (left) exchanging documents with Malaysian Palm Oil Board director general Tan Sri Yusof Basiron. Looking on is Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak
To take advantage of the increasing demand for renewable energy, he said GHope would construct another plant, also in Banting, with a production capacity of 30,000 tonnes a year and yet another in The Netherlands.
With the three plants, Golden Hope expects a total production capacity of about 240,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year.
“The first production of biodiesel is expected in the second half of next year and the full capacity is targeted by the second half of 2007,” said Sabri.
He said GHope, which was positioning to be a leader in the production of sustainable energy, was optimistic of good returns from its venture in biodiesel production.
Carotino group managing director Shien Chang said the group has been producing and selling about 3,000 tonnes of palm oil-based biodiesel mainly to Europe over the past two years.
“We believe that Carotino is the first to use the MPOB technology to produce biodiesel in our pilot plant in Pasir Gudang,” he said, adding that the joint plant with MPOB was expected to be fully operational in the third quarter of next year.
He said the biodiesel was for export. However, he added that if Malaysia comes out with a policy that requires biofuel domestically, Carotino would be interested to be one of the major suppliers.
Chang said the group plans to build a bigger biodiesel plant in Pasir Gudang in future and hoped to double the production capacity to 120,000 tonnes per year.
Carotino is a subsidiary of the Johor-based diversified JC Chang Group, which has about 100,000 acres oil palm plantation, 70% of which is in Sabah.
Kumpulan Fima chairman Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi said the group has turned around and was optimistic that the plant with MPOB, to be located in Port Klang, would be a profitable venture when it comes on stream in 2007.
“We have hit the bottom and is now steadily progressing to register good growth,” he added.
Zaki sees the biodiesel venture as a likely platform for the group to capitalise on the government's aggressive shift towards renewable fuel.