Colombia raises biofuels blend limit to 10%

9 Mar 2018 | John McGarrity

The Colombian government has raised the blend limit for bioethanol and biodiesel in petrol and diesel as it attempts to reduce emissions, find markets for domestic agricultural produce and increase utilisation rates at the country’s biorefineries.

Colombia produces sugar cane and palm oil, both of which are used as feedstocks for ethanol and biodiesel respectively.

From March 1, petrol will have an ethanol mandate of 10% and diesel will have a requirement of 10% biodiesel, Colombia’s mines and energy ministry said. 

The introduction of E10 across most of Colombia raises the mandate for ethanol from 8% in the Antioquia department and 6% for the rest of the country.

Previous mandates for biodiesel were set at levels between 2% and 9%, Colombia's biofuels federation Fedebiocombustibles said on its website.

“From 1 March the blend of biofuels throughout the whole country is 10%,” Colombia’s finance minister Mauricio Cardenas tweeted. "This means more jobs in agriculture and less CO2 emissions. Great news!," he added.

Fedebiocombustibles’ president Jorge Bendeck said in a recent interview that Colombia has sufficient infrastructure to produce more than 916,000 metric tons of biofuels, but that demand is around 525,000 mt, meaning that the sector only operates at 60% of its capacity.

According to a September 2017 USDA GAIN report, Colombia’s biofuel production fell in 2016 as a result of difficult weather conditions that affected sugarcane and palm oil, while unclear biofuels policies on blend mandates had provided few incentives for increased production despite the addition of new biofuels facilities.

Rapid urbanisation in Colombia’s largest cities and increased car ownership has contributed to worsening air quality in built-up areas, and the country needs to slow emissions from the transport sector if it is to meet its commitment under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Colombia is also a significant producer of palm oil and is monitoring a proposed EU exclusion of the commodity from the bloc’s renewable energy directive after 2021.