LA PAZ – One of Bolivia’s largest sugar refining mills is awaiting the enactment of a law promoting mass domestic production of bioethanol, a biofuel product that will serve as a substitute for imported gasoline and diesel additives.
Mariano Aguilera, the chairman of the board of the Guabira sugar refining mill, said in a press conference here Thursday that he was pleased that the Senate had passed the bill for the production, sale and blending of vegetable-derived additives.
Aguilera said he was confident Bolivian President Evo Morales would sign it into law in the coming days so that the mill can immediately enter into contracts with state energy company YPFB and start distributing bioethanol and so domestic consumers can begin using fuels with the new blend.
YPFB has called on domestic sugar mills to produce some 80 million liters of bioethanol in the first year, Aguilera said, adding that that volume could increase steadily in subsequent years.
He said that revenue would be very welcome for a sugarcane sector that has been hard hit early in 2018 by heavy rains and later by drought and cold.
Numerous public and private stakeholders converge in this project, since the government will stop importing gasoline and diesel additives and producers also will be incentivized “with a good price,” Aguilera said.
“Everyone wins, and the Bolivian people win because they’ll consume a better quality gasoline with a higher octane rating than what we have now and not environmentally polluting,” he said, adding that the law will create thousands of jobs and allow the country to save billions of dollars in the coming years.
Located in Montero, a town in the eastern Bolivian province of Santa Cruz, Guabira is made up of 1,670 shareholders (sugar cane entrepreneurs), 1,400 industrial workers and more than 1,526 cane growers.
Aguilera confirmed that the mill plans to invest $40 million over the next two years to take on the “great challenge” of bioethanol production.
The mill has already produced more than 6 million liters of ethanol that is in its warehouses and ready to be delivered to YPFB when required, he said.