Brazilian company to develop ethanol plant at Albion Estate
Guyana is embarking on a deliberate task to develop biomass to support a large scale bio-energy
industry, as the country seeks a place in the growing sector.
This is according to Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who during his Budget 2012 debate presentation outlined the government’s policy of moving the agriculture sector away from just food production.
“In 2012, we will finalise Guyana’s agro-energy policy; a prototype ethanol-producing plant…as a pilot, is being developed at the Albion Sugar Estate,” said Ramsammy.
He told the National Assembly that government is collaborating with a Brazilian firm to develop the plant as part of an Inter-American Development Bank technical grant support programme.
This is in addition to a Memorandum of Understanding that government has signed with Ansa McAl to carry out a feasibility study for a large-scale ethanol production enterprise in Guyana.
The Agriculture Minister also disclosed that several other investors have approached the government expressing interest in similar ventures.
“We will pursue these opportunities,” Ramsammy asserted.
He said that the efforts of government over the past decade in pursuing a bio-fuel industry are beginning to take shape.
“Agriculture must not be seen only as a producer of food for local consumption or for export. Agriculture in Guyana must be developed beyond food.”
Ramsammy stressed that Guyana has the opportunity to create biomass for the production of bio-fuel, thus “satisfying needs other than feeding our people; needs that ensure a sustainable and affordable fuel source”.
Guyana is already using agricultural products such as bagasse to produce energy on a small scale, but according to Ramsammy, now is the time for the country to aggressively pursue production of the commodity in commercial quantities.
Critical to such a venture is a successful sugar industry and the Agriculture Minister is optimistic about the future of GuySuCo, since according to him, the company is successfully confronting the many challenges it is currently facing.
The Agriculture Minister in his presentation – that was sometimes interrupted by sporadic heckling from the opposition side of the House – dismissed the suggestions of many who have placed the blame solely at the feet of the management of the sugar company.
He said that no one has sought to analyse the impact of the European price cut on the industry, resulting in an approximately $8B loss per annum.
Ramsammy pointed out that the industry’s revenue increased by $6.4B last year and there is a projected increase of $1.2B in 2012. This, he said, is due to price negotiations, and an increase in value added products, to ensure a profitable and competitive industry in the long run.
Despite its problems, the Minister revealed that, in 2010, the sugar industry recorded a production of 220,000 tonnes of sugar, which was increased to 237,000 last year.
“We hope to attain a target of 250,000 tonnes in 2012, a far cry from the 129,000 tonnes in 1990.”
Ramsammy admitted that the US$200M Skeldon factory is still a major concern.
“There are remedial works to be done and these will be done this year,” Ramsammy said, adding that work has begun on modification of the design of the bagasse feed conveyor and the ploughs and feed shoots, among other things.
The Agriculture Minister said that the administration expects that most, if not all of the defects, will be remedied by the end of this year.
He also spoke of the Enmore Packaging Plant, which he said is now working effectively.
“As long as we can supply the sugar it can reach its capacity of 40,000 tonnes per year,” Ramsammy stated.