Petrobras invests in Brazilian, Portuguese biodiesel production plants

Source: Petrobras

Petrobras (PBR) will launch two projects to produce biodiesel from palm oil (dendê) this Thursday in Tomé-Açu (state of Pará). The event will be attended by president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The actions involve a self-owned biodiesel plant, the Biodiesel Pará project, and a project to produce biodiesel in partnership with Portuguese outfit Galp Energia, which is called the Belém project.

The biodiesel plant supply strategy foresees planting palm in areas impacted by man, working in one of the regions affected the most by deforestation in the State of Pará. As a result, the projects will not only afford environmental benefits with the recovery of these areas, providing protection to the soil, ecological balance and the economic reintegration of these regions where there is sparse productive activity, but also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the vegetable oil production cycle and in biodiesel production.

The projects will also have positive social and economic impacts for the region. Seven thousand direct jobs will be created, of which approximately 5,250 in the agricultural sector and 1,750 in the industrial and logistics areas, and 2,250 family farmers will be involved in planting palm.

Projects for the sustainable production of palm biodiesel

- Biodiesel Pará: the project foresees the deployment of a biodiesel plant in the state of Pará with capacity to produce 120 million liters of biodiesel per year to supply Northern Brazil. With investments estimated at R$330 million, of which R$237 million in agriculture and R$93 million in the industrial plant, the project also includes the installation of two industrial palm oil extraction complexes, including crushers and a power cogeneration unit.

For this project, 3,338 families were registered in the municipalities of Igarapé-Miri, Cametá, Mocajuba and Baião, and had their properties georeferenced, an important step in the process of agrarian regularization and to obtain the Rural Environmental Registry (RER). This year, 1.1 million palm seeds will be acquired to start producing seedlings in nurseries. Seedling planting in the production areas is planned for December 2011, and harvest is expected to start as of 2014.

Belém: project to produce around 250,000 tons of biodiesel per year (green diesel) in Portugal, in partnership with Galp Energia, to supply the Iberian market. The partnership is part of Petrobras' strategy to enter the European fuel market. The total estimated investment is R$1,017 million ($530 million), of which R$554 million in Brazil, to produce 300,000 tons of palm oil per year, and $463 million ($240 million) in Portugal, to deploy a biodiesel plant which is expected to go on stream in 2015.

The Belém Project is still in the phase of developing palm seedlings in nursery. Around a million seedlings are currently being grown at Vila Forquilha, in the Tomé-Açu municipality, which are expected to be planted in January 2011. The project includes the installation of four industrial palm oil extraction complexes, including crushers, a power cogeneration unit, and tanking.

Incentives for family farming and environmental conservation

All family farmers involved in planting palm will get technical assistance and will be monitored and guided by the company in order for their properties to be in environmental compliance in aspects such as the maintenance of legal reserve. Petrobras will also support the restoration of these areas by supplying seedlings of native species, especially of fruit trees.

Also with regard to the environmental issue, the seeds that were ed for the project result from a genetic improvement process with the use of palm lineages native to the Amazon crossed with the variety that is native to Africa, which will allow better adaptation to the Brazilian Amazon.

Palm oil: generating power and food

With high vegetable oil productivity, palm can be supplied year-round and can be produced by family farms. Furthermore, the production process generates other products, such as organic fertilizers, palm kernel cake, palm kernel oil (extracted from the palm fruit kernel), and power cogeneration from vegetable residues.

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