09 November 2005

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Business Today

Biofuels proposal shelved for two years

Karl Schembri

A proposal made by a Maltese oil company two years ago to mix motor petrol and diesel with fuel made from sugar beet and oilseed rape as part of the fight against climate change has been met with total apathy by the government, despite Malta’s environmental commitments.
The idea is steadily gaining ground across Europe, with Britain being the latest country to plan mixing 5 per cent – initially – of biofuels made from crops or recycled vegetable oil with all motor petrol and diesel.
These biofuels do not add to carbon dioxide emissions causing global warming and are considered the most revolutionary shift in fuel since unleaded petrol.
The proposal in Malta was made two years ago by Edible Oil Company. Owner Pippo Psaila says his company has the facility to add 2 per cent and more of biofuel to all of Enemalta’s fuel distributed to petrol stations.
The idea was to draw up a fuel obligation requiring Enemalta to blend a 2 per cent proportion of biofuels, which could be increased to any amount, to the normal petrol and diesel sold to motorists at petrol stations.
The mix makes little difference to the engines, actually improving mechanical performance, and should cost about the same price of unblended fuel, but the environmental benefits are enormous.
“It’s the best way to cut down drastically fuel emissions,” Psaila said. “We made a proposal but unfortunately it hasn’t happened. The only way to do it is to impose it at retail level.”
The impact of such a measure on cutting carbon dioxide emissions would be tremendous. The UK government calculates that replacing 5 per cent of its home standard road transport fuel consumption with biofuels is calculated to save a million tonnes of emissions annually.
The Maltese government is however waiting to liberalise the fuel and energy market before making any biofuel obligations, although the reasons behind this policy remain unclear.


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