Monday, August 20, 2007


Sugar: the new oil

Have you seen that new TV show CANE being advertised where the voiceover proclaims that "Sugar is the new oil?" Here's what's happening in Brazil with sugar as a biofuel. As seen at this Dept. of Commerce website.

• Brazil is the largest sugar cane producer (425.7 million tons produced in 2006/07 harvest).

• Brazil is also the world's biggest ethanol exporter (3.5 billion liters exported in 2006 or US$ 1.6 billion). The United States is the largest buyer of Brazilian ethanol when both direct and indirect exports are considered. The U.S. Government’s Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) exempts imports from the Caribbean from payment of $0.54 per gallon import tariffs, encouraging Brazilian alcohol exports to that region. As a result, recorded exports to destination such as El Salvador, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica are generally destined for the U.S. market; however, exports tend to occur, for limited periods, when gas prices spike in the United States.

• World’s leader in ethanol production (Brazil has 351 producers who generate an output of 18 billion liters/year. About 15 billion liters are destined for internal Brazilian consumption and around three billion are exported.)

• The sugar-alcohol sector’s annual revenue is about US$20 billion (2006).

• 86 new ethanol projects should result in investments of US$17 B (US$14 B in new plants and US$ 3 B in existing plant expansions).

• 80% of flex fuel cars (filled with either alcohol or gasoline, or a mixture of both). In 2006, 1.4 million flex fuel cars were sold in the Brazilian market.

• Alcohol production average cost in Brazil: US$ 1.06/gallon (excludes freight and taxes)

• Petrobras’ large distribution and logistics network in Brazil has always played a key role to boost the ethanol program. The company is investing US$340 million through 2011 to expand its export ethanol infrastructure.

• Petrobras is Brazil’s largest ethanol buyer through its BR Distribuidora subsidiary.

• Petrobras is building ten micro ethanol refineries adopting a family production model. Petrobras is also partnering with Japanese Mitsui to build 40 plants to export ethanol to Japan.

The United States and Brazil are exploring ways to partner on developing second-generation biofuels.

Opportunities may exist in the future for US companies in the biomass to liquids (BTL) and lignocelulose arenas.

Just a thought. Burning sugar sure makes me hot. I wonder what it does for the environment?


Anonymous said...

Great and very readable post - thanks for all the research and collecting all this interesting information.
Another proof of that you always learn something while visiting your blog!
Wishing you a great week:-)

JAM said...

I have read several times, but have no real proof other than repeating what others have said, but as far as I know, Brazil doesn't import any foreign oil. They use the ethanol and their own oil wells to meet their needs.

I guess the only way America will learn is when gas prices get so high it cripples our economy to the point where people finally demand and get, drilling in known oil rich areas within the US and just offshore, as well as allowing oil companies to build new production facilities. The last one built was opened in around 1980. 25+ years of no new oil processing and gasoline production facilities thanks to the environmentalists.

I guess we're famous for not trying to do the sensible thing until it's too late or amost so.