International and Biofuels News on Brazil Archives
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Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao announced Friday that Brazil plans to build 50 to 60 nuclear power plants in half a century, each with a 1,000 megawatts capacity. The ambitious plan, a priority for the administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has yet to be approved by Brazil's National Council of Energy Policy.
Financial Times, 09/12/2008
Brazil yesterday faced severe shortages of natural gas after violent protests in Bolivia caused the temporary closure of a pipeline that supplies about a quarter of Brazil's daily needs. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's president, yesterday called on the "group of friends of Bolivia", formed six months ago and consisting of Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, to help bring about a peaceful settlement.
BBC News, 09/05/2008
Brazil has turned down an invitation to join the oil producers' cartel, Opec, according to the country's energy minister, Edison Lobao. He told a local TV station that Brazil had been formally invited to join Opec by Iran two weeks ago.
Brazil has between 30 billion and 70 billion barrels of oil in its so-called pre-salt fields near the Tupi discovery off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state, said Julio Bueno, the state's economic affairs secretary.About $600 billion will be needed to develop the pre-salt resources, an amount that will require involvement from both Brazilian and non-Brazilian oil companies, Bueno said.
Associated Press, 07/28/2008
Brazil said Monday it was pressing the United States and European Union to open their markets to more ethanol imports, but has yet to reach a deal with either. Brazil has made ethanol one of its key demands in global trade talks, noting that the fuel is taxed at much higher rates than petroleum and that the U.S. considers it the only product outside the scope of World Trade Organization rules. Despite resistance from European and American biofuel producers, the Latin American country is likely to reap a big payoff in ethanol for splitting with developing world allies like India and trading partners such as Argentina in accepting a proposal that aims to break a deadlock over liberalizing world trade in farm and industrial products.
Financial Times, 07/23/2008
Latin America's biggest development institution is prepared to defy growing environmental concern about biofuels by lending money to a $1bn-plus Brazilian ethanol project. The board of the Inter-American Development Bank is set to approve proposals today to provide a 15-year loan of $260m (€164m, £130m) to three ethanol plants being built by Santa Elisa Vale do Rosario, a Brazilian company, and US private equity groups. The facility, which will sit alongside a $360m commercial bank credit, would be the biggest ever by a multilateral institution for a green fuel initiative.
Can biofuels be sustainable? Can we displace oil and carbon dioxide, but not food? During the E&ETV Event Coverage of the National Summit on Energy Security, sponsored by 2020 Vision, biofuels experts debated the recent EPA waiver request for the rollback of the renewable fuels standard. They also discussed the possibility of reducing the ethanol import tariff. Panelists included Scott Faber, vice president of federal affairs, Grocery Manufacturers Association; Joel Velasco, U.S. representative, Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association; Brent Erickson, executive vice president, Biotechnology Industry Organization; and Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive, Renewable Fuels Association. The panel was moderated by E&ETV host Monica Trauzzi. Watch the video here.
Dow Jones, 07/16/2008
The Sugarcane Industry Association of Brazil, Unica, lambasted in a full page ad in the Financial Times on Wednesday a recent comment by the director of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that ethanol is to blame for high oil prices. Chakib Khelil, OPEC's president, said this month that the "intrusion of bioethanol on the market" was responsible for 40% of the rise in oil prices, with the weak dollar and geopolitical concerns responsible for the rest. Unica sent an "open letter" to the Financial Times against OPEC, published in Wednesday's paper. The letter was also signed by the U.S. Renewable Fuels Association, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, and the European Bioethanol Fuel Association.
A copy of the OECD report, "Economic assessment of biofuel support policies," referenced in the article is found here.
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and his Republican counterpart John McCain have proposals for dealing with the tight supply of oil. But Bob Pindyck, a professor of economics and finance at MIT, says most of those proposals would make a limited difference as Americans face rising energy costs. Pindyck tells Steve Inskeep that there is one exception — a proposal that McCain supports but Obama opposes. Removing the tariff on Brazilian ethanol — which is made from sugar instead of corn — would help cut gas prices within a year, he says.
Reuters UK, 07/07/2008
Record ethanol consumption in Brazil, surging exports of the biofuel to the United States and a recovery in sugar and ethanol prices will not be enough to pull local mills' margins out of the red, producers said. Sugar and ethanol prices have started to improve since December as investment fund buying stormed into commodity complex after a gloomy period of low profitability mainly due to a huge global surplus of sugar. But this will be offset by a strong surge in costs and the local currency against the dollar, and new investments in production in the world's top sugar and second largest ethanol producer, are unlikely under current market conditions.
The Washington Post, 07/06/2008
Is energy independence a pipe dream? Hardly. At least four very different countries -- dictatorships and democracies alike -- are already making serious headway toward that goal. It's past time to pay attention to their example.
The Orlando Sentinel, 07/04/2008
With sky-high gas prices soaking motorists and wreaking havoc with the economy, Brazilian sugar-cane growers are launching a multimillion-dollar radio and print campaign today in Orlando and elsewhere to promote their country's ethanol. The ads are aimed at generating support for a big cut in the U.S. tariff on imports of ethanol fuel produced from the giant South American nation's vast cane fields. The campaign comes just as Florida's largest cane grower, U.S. Sugar Corp., is planning to shut down and get out of the business if the state's taxpayers are willing to shell out more than $1 billion for its land in the Everglades.
The Economist, 06/26/2008
When John McCain laid out his plans for reducing America's dependence on oil to an audience in California on June 23rd, the candidate's keenest listeners were 6,000 miles away in São Paulo. Mr McCain argued that the tariff on imported ethanol of 54 cents per gallon should be scrapped. Others in the Senate (though not Barack Obama) are pushing for it to be reduced. Either way, the case against the tariff has been strengthened by high oil prices and by the June floods that damaged the mid-western corn (maize) crop.
The Guardian, 06/25/2008
A group of Brazilian ethanol companies signed a deal to export certified sustainable ethanol to Sweden, in the world's first agreement of such a kind, they said on Wednesday. Brazilian groups Cosan , Guarani , NovAmerica and Alcoeste agreed sell to Sweden's Sekab 115 million liters of anhydrous ethanol that will adhere to certain social and environmental standards.
Los Angeles Times, 06/16/2008
Even as Brazil's booming economy is powered by fuel processed from the cane, labor officials are confronting what some call the country's dirty little ethanol secret: the mostly primitive conditions endured by the multitudes of workers who cut the cane. Biofuels may help reduce humanity's carbon footprint, but the social footprint is substantial.
The Baltimore Sun, 06/15/2008
The other side of ethanol, vilified as a cause of soaring food prices and hunger, can be seen in Brazil, where farmers are pushing down energy costs - both at the pump and at the electricity meter.
A new pest in Brazil's largest sugar cane growing state, Sao Paulo, could cause annual crop losses of up to $245 million, if it spreads as expected, a leading sugar cane research center said on Tuesday. The giant cane borer (Telchin licus), which is common in Brazil's northeastern states, was spotted for the first time in Sao Paulo last July, in the Limeira area and "has disseminated," the Sugar Cane Technology Center said. "As it is a new plague in the center-south, combative methods have not yet been developed," said Enrico De Beni Arrigoni, technological research coordinator at the CTC.
The Guardian, 06/10/2008
Ethanol has been serving the Brazilian transport sector for the past three decades without attracting much international interest or comment. That suddenly changed when the west saw biofuels as a source of energy security and clean power but the soaring cost of food and fears of deforestation have triggered a global debate on whether ethanol will cure or kill the planet.
The Times, 06/07/2008
An iconic figure, toiling with machete in hand under a blazing tropical sun, the Brazilian sugar cane cutter is about to become part of history. The industry is being transformed as soaring global demand for bioethanol is bringing mechanisation financed by foreign investors seeking to cash in on alternatives to oil.
The Guardian, 06/06/2008
Brazil's President Lula strongly defended his government's biofuels programme at the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation conference in Rome earlier this week. Since his remarks run directly counter to the Guardian's call to "use this summit to press the case for stopping biofuel production" in certain circumstances and it is worth elaborating why liberals in the north are taxing the patience of progressives in the south on this issue.
The Associated Press, 06/04/2008
Participants at a U.N. summit on the world's food crisis differed this week over a key issue: how much the rush for environmentally friendly biofuels is contributing to the rocketing prices that are causing hunger and unrest in much of the globe.
U.S. News and World Report, 06/03/2008
Biofuels are taking a beating in world opinion, as rising food commodity prices are being blamed, in part, on surging interest in shifting farm field production from food crops to those used to produce ethanol. But here in the capital of Brazil, there is little patience for that critique, which is seen as unfair and—in the case of this ethanol-crazy South American country—simply wrong.
The Associated Press, 06/03/2008
Destruction of the Amazon rain forest appears to be on the upswing, and Brazil's new environment minister has wasted no time in aiming at a villain: cattle. The minister, Carlos Minc, says Brazil's government will impound cattle caught grazing on illegally cleared pastures with an operation, dubbed "Rogue Bull," to attack deforestation in the rain forest.
Reuters , 05/27/2008
A world leader in biofuels, Brazil has decades of expertise in using sugar cane to make ethanol for cars, in a process that is much more economically viable than using corn, the major ethanol feedstock in the United States. Brazil launched a national program to stimulate consumption and production in the 1970s. Its most recent boost came in 2003, with the launch of flex-fuel vehicles, which can run on gasoline, ethanol or a mixture of the two. Ethanol consumption surpassed that of gasoline earlier this year for the first time in two decades. But change is in the air as the ethanol boom attracts investors from all over the world and some fear old customs could fade away, along with traditional management models, as the industry is consolidated into fewer, bigger and vertically integrated companies.
The Miami Herald , 05/20/2008
Just a decade ago, the giant Moema ethanol and sugar mill in this corner of southeastern Brazil covered less than half of its current 173,000 acres. It produced mainly sugar. That was before world petroleum prices skyrocketed and millions of Brazilians turned to cheaper sugar cane-based ethanol to fuel their vehicles. Now, fuels made from sugar cane have become Brazil's second most-used energy source, only behind fossil fuels.
Brazil will contest any attempt by the European Union to place limits on biofuel exports because of environmental concerns, a senior Brazilian official said on Friday. The European Union's environment chief said last month that biofuels, which Brazil hopes to export to the EU, must meet certain criteria regarding potential harm to the environment and social conditions. It is now discussing guidelines. "If the criteria were trade-distorting we will appeal," Andre Aranha Correa do Lago, head of the Foreign Ministry's energy department, told reporters.
The purchase of Exxon's fuel distribution assets in Brazil by ethanol producer Cosan and the entry of oil major BP in the ethanol sector signal growing consolidation in the country's booming biofuels industry. Analysts said Thursday the link between oil and ethanol markets will likely strengthen too, adding more scale to biofuels as exports of cane-based ethanol increase and more international oil companies arrive in Brazil.
The Associated Press, 04/17/2008
Brazil's booming economy is shifting into overdrive, with biofuels and deep-water oil providing energy independence and the government collecting enough cash to irrigate the desert and pave highways across the Amazon.
BBC News, 04/17/2008
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has rejected allegations that biofuels are responsible for the recent rise in global food prices. He said food had become more expensive because people in developing countries were gaining greater access to it.
The Economist, 04/17/2008
Of all the commodities Brazil exports, oil has long been an afterthought. Its oil reserves were reckoned to be relatively modest: about 12 billion barrels at the beginning of 2007, according to BP, or about 1% of the world's total. But last year, Petrobras, Brazil's partly state-owned oil firm, announced the world's biggest oil discovery since 2000: the Tupi field, which it hopes will produce between 5 billion and 8 billion barrels.
O Estado de S. Paulo, 04/14/2008
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund summit ended with a series of warnings against biofuels production in the U.S. and in Europe and its negative impact on food prices. World Bank President Robert Zoellick aired concerns regarding government subsidies to ethanol industries in the United States and Europe as possible contributors to the food crisis in the world today.
National Center for Policy Analysis, 04/07/2008
Nationwide, average retail gasoline prices are nearing the all-time inflation-adjusted high of $3.40 a gallon reached in 1981, lending urgency to renewed calls for U.S. energy independence. Analysts often tout Brazil as the epitome of energy self-sufficiency. Brazil imported more than 80 percent of its oil in the 1970s, but it likely reached energy independence by the end of 2007, according to projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Brazil's success is commonly attributed to its thriving ethanol market, but this is at most only a small part of the story.
Booming demand for biodiesel has become a lifeline for some poor farmers who plant oil seeds in Brazil's dry northeast but critics say the fuel is not as clean, equitable and bountiful as the government boasts. "Nobody ever wanted this stuff and now they can't get enough," farmer Joel Queiroz said of the drought-resistant castor beans he sells to a biodiesel refinery in Iraquara, 310 miles west of the Bahia state capital, Salvador.
O Estado S.Paulo, 04/01/2008
Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras announced Tuesday it bought 87.5 percent of an oil refinery in Okinawa, Japan. The U$50 million investment was a joint purchase with an ExxonMobil subsidiary, TonenGeneral. According to Petrobras, the purchase marks the first time the Brazilian company will operate in Asia.
Associated Press, 04/14/2008
A deep-water exploration area off Brazil's coast could contain as much as 33 billion barrels of oil, the head of Brazil's National Petroleum Agency said Monday. That would make it the world's third-largest known oil reserve. Haroldo Lima cautioned that his information on the field off the coast of Rio de Janeiro is unofficial and needs to be confirmed.
The presidents of Venezuela and Brazil pledged on Thursday to accelerate energy integration between the two countries in an effort to heighten the region's autonomy.
Although energy integration in Latin America is not a new movement and some feel it can help limit regional energy crises, closer energy interdependence between Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile over the last decade has worsened the region's current energy crisis.
Washington Post, 03/12/2008
For much of its 47-year existence, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has been a cartel in name only. It could not control oil prices because many of its members regularly breached the production quotas that were intended to regulate the market. So OPEC followed oil prices up and down, as supply and demand shifted. But now OPEC may be the real deal: a cartel that works. If so, that's bad news for the rest of the world.
Associated Press, 03/11/2008
A team from Brazil's Labor Ministry found "degrading" living conditions for 133 sugarcane workers employed by an ethanol company whose investors include former President Clinton and other high-profile financial players. At five sites inspected, workers "complained they were suffering from hunger and cold, and all of the locations were overcrowded and with terrible sanitary conditions," according to a statement issued Friday by Jaqueline Carrijo, who led the inspections last month. To read Brenco's press release, please click here
The Guardian, 03/08/2008
The US is flooding Europe with subsidized biofuels that threaten to destroy Europe's domestic refining market, the head of the biofuel company D1 Oils warned yesterday as its shares lost a third of their value.
The New York Times, 03/03/2008
The world's food situation is bleak, and shortsighted policies in the United States and other wealthy countries — which are diverting crops to environmentally dubious biofuels — bear much of the blame.
The Associated Press, 02/27/2008
Argentine officials, already facing an energy crisis, are scrambling to find new sources of natural gas and other energy following Bolivia's warning that it may not be able to provide all the supplies it had promised.
More proof that there are no easy solutions to climate change
The Associated Press, 02/27/2008
As the United States searches for alternative ways to feed its addiction to petroleum, ethanol and other biofuels derived from organic material have been considered a miracle motor vehicle elixir. The energy bill signed by President Bush in December mandates that at least 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year be used by 2020. Yet separate studies released this month by Princeton University and the Nature Conservancy reveal that biofuels are not a silver bullet in the battle against global warming. In fact, they could make things worse.
The Associated Press, 02/23/2008
The presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia failed to resolve a natural gas dispute Saturday, but agreed to study how to divide Bolivian supplies to avoid an energy crunch, an official said. Bolivian Energy Minister Carlos Villegas said the three leaders amicably discussed ways to divide up limited Bolivian supplies, but reached no immediate solution during talks at Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's suburban residence.
Agricultural scientists in the United States have identified a key gene that determines oil yield in a corn, a finding that could have repercussions for the fast-expanding biofuels industry. The gene lies on Chromosome 6 of the maize genome, according to a paper published on Sunday by Nature Genetics.
Dow Jones Newswires, 02/14/2008
State-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras, will build a large new biodiesel plant that make it Brazil's leading biodiesel producer, the Valor newspaper said Thursday.
The New York Times, 02/08/2008
Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these "green" fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded. The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. For related analyses see the NPR report, the Washington Post story and the Scientific American article.
For more background and an overview of the studies see the German Marshall Funds' press release, which also contains links to articles and presentations related to the studies and the issue of biofuels.
Sugar-cane production in Brazil, the world's biggest producer of sugar, may rise this year as growers plant more to benefit from soaring demand for biofuels, research company Datagro Ltd. said. Brazil may harvest as much as 45 million tons more cane than in the previous year, Plinio Nastari, head of the Sao Paulo-based company, said. The amount of sugar produced from the crop in the year starting May 2008 may be between 30 million tons and 31.5 million tons, compared with 30.6 million in 2007-08, he said in an interview at a conference in Dubai today.
The New York Times, 01/29/2008
The nation's fascination with ethanol is pushing food prices upward and raising the specter of potential shortages, according to a report by an environmental think tank. The country's ethanol push is a "misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity," according to the Earth Policy Institute. The report released last week suggests the ethanol boom will hit U.S. consumers in their pocketbooks and cause even more far-reaching problems in the developing world.