PetroVietnam has announced that it will increase exports of ethanol fuels due to a lack of market demand at home.

Under a Government plan for developing the bio-fuel market through 2015, with a vision to 2025, the group invested 270 million USD in three ethanol plants in Binh Phuoc, Phu Tho and Quang Ngai provinces with a total productive capacity of 300,000cu.m annually.

However, despite being cheaper by about 500 VND per litre than conventional A92 petrol, consumers have not embraced ethanol-based fuels.

Nguyen Anh Toan, deputy director of PetroVietnam Oil (PV Oil), a group subsidiary, said that PV Oil sold roughly 20,000cu.m of ethanol last year though 150 dealers in 40 cities and provinces nationwide.

Toan estimated that only about 100,000cu.m of ethanol will be consumed annually in the next few years without a more aggressive roadmap. Although a plan to develop the bio-fuels market had been in place since 2007, a more definite roadmap to carry it out is still being drafted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, he said.

Under the draft, which is still being circulated among relevant agencies for recommendations and comment, drivers in major cities will be required to use E5 petrol by the end of next year. The cities and provinces in the pilot programme will include Hanoi , HCM City , Hai Phong, Da Nang , Can Tho, Quang Ngai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. The use of bio-fuels will then become compulsory nationwide by June 2015.

The ministry said that there are 13 projects registered to produce ethanol-based fuels. This year, five plants are expected to begin operations with a design capacity of 490 million litres per year.-VNA