More support should be given to domestic producers and traders of bio-fuel to increase sales as the state target, experts said.

The bio-fuel product known as E5 was released on the domestic market in August 2010, but the volume of sales have been lower than expected following Decision 177/2007/QD-TTg to develop bio-fuel by 2015 and towards 2025.

Ethanol fuel mixtures have "E" numbers which describe the percentage of ethanol in the mixture by volume, for example, E5 is 5 percent anhydrous ethanol, distilled from cassavas, and 95 percent petrol.

By the end of 2010, PV Oil had sold 4.2 million litres of E5 fuel from 30 petrol stations, said Nguyen Thi Dieu Hanh, deputy head of PV Oil's Oil Trading Department.

PV Oil had increased the number of petrol stations that sell E5 to 50, but sales volume remained unchanged at 4.2 million litres in the first five months of this year, she said.

Phan Dang Tuat, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Industrial Strategic and Policy Research Institute, said the state should have policies to encourage investment, distribution and cassava cultivation to boost the industry.

The consumption of E5 on the local market would continue to remain low if the State did not create preferential policies for distributors and customers of E5, and schedule a date for its compulsory use in the future, Tuat said.

Le Xuan Trinh, PV Oil deputy general director, said the schedule would help bio-petrol traders by giving them time to develop a storage and distribution system, and to advertise E5.

The State should lower the special consumption tax for E5 petrol by 50 percent to support production and trading of the product, Trinh said.

Many countries already had preferential policies including tax exemptions for those that produced and traded bio-petrol, he added.

Le Duong Quang, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, said the ministry would continue to promote the production and consumption of bio-petrol in the future.

The ministry would review legal documents and make suitable adjustments to create favourable conditions for developing bio-petrol production and trading, Quang said.

There were 13 projects to develop bio-fuel in Vietnam , but only four would be operational by the end of 2011, with a total annual capacity of 295,000 tonnes, according to the ministry.

Under the plan to develop bio-fuel by 2015 and towards 2025, Vietnam would produce 150,000 tonnes of bio-fuel in the 2010-15 period and 1.8 million tonnes of bio-fuel by 2025.
PV Oil, a major distributor of E5, would continue to invest in its distribution system, and increase the number of stations that sold E5 to between 300-40./.