Jorge Chaves Dominguez

Director General, Merhav Colombia

Colombia will be strong in biofuels, especially in its internal market. We have land restrictions at the moment preventing us from being a major player in terms of exports, but we will certainly be supporting biofuel developments to ensure sufficient consumption for domestic use, both for ethanol and biodiesel. The immediate step, however, is making sure the current usage policy remains at a 10% blend. We have the capacity and technology to raise that to 20%. Significant players are the US with 52 billion liters per year and Brazil with 23 billion liters per year. Colombia's production is very small compared to those markets. The first wave of biofuel projects, both in ethanol and biodiesel, were small- to medium-sized investments that were on plantations already in a steady state. In other words, they were not grassroots organizations because sugar or palm oil was already being produced there and the facilities were just expanded. Our project started from scratch and introduced sugarcane in a part of the country that never had it before. That takes a lot of patience, and it is higher risk because you are testing new land that is not accustomed to agriculture. However, if you are successful, it creates a win-win scenario for both country and company. We are bringing in new technology and introducing agriculture to an area that previously only stocked cattle.

Jorge Bendeck

Executive President, FedeBiocombustibles

The biofuels industry is six years' old and has been rapidly implemented. We had the raw materials to produce ethanol that is blended with gasoline, and palm oil to produce biodiesel that is blended with diesel oil. Today, we are blending 9% of biodiesel with the diesel and 8% of ethanol blended with the gasoline consumed in Colombia. This result was achieved after an investment of nearly $2 billion. We are now looking to increase our blending activity, supplying more or less 13% of ethanol in gasoline by the end of 2013 and 10% of biodiesel in diesel oil. This is part of the company's first stage. We are also looking to increase this figure to 15% in the year 2015 of both biofuels—ethanol in gasoline and biodiesel in diesel oil—and 20% by the year 2020. This is the future. We have invested $1.3 billion in planting palm oil plantations. We will need more—about $300 million more—to grow enough plants and meet our 2015 and 2020 targets. This applies to the biodiesel sector, which uses palm oil. In the case of ethanol, for the years 2015 and 2020, we need to invest more or less $1 billion.

Tito Eduardo Salcedo Díaz

General Manager, Bio D

The biofuel sector in Colombia began with a directive by the Colombian government; we have a decree that involves ethanol and biodiesel. We want to reach B-20 for biodiesel in 2020, and for ethanol it is more or less the same. We are not only thinking about first-generation biofuels, we are thinking about the second- and third-generation biofuels. Research carried out by EMPA a Swiss Institute in Colombia states that greenhouse gas reduction from bio-diesels was 83%, and for ethanol there was a 74% reduction as compared to fossil fuels. We were showing this data to environmental and energy commissions in the EU and to the EPA in the US to demonstrate that our biodiesel produced from palm oil is different from the biodiesel produced in Malaysia or Indonesia, where there are problems with deforestation. We have plenty of land that does not involve forests to produce biofuels; this is a good thing for us, because our idea is to be sustainable. We have enough land to increase the production to reach a 20% blend. We are now beginning to research how to produce energy from biomass. We have a great opportunity. I believe that we need to share knowledge with the US government. It is improving the technology to produce biofuels from biomass. If we have the biomass and they have the technology then it would be beneficial for both countries.