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Thursday, June 29, 2006 

Havana. June 28, 2006



Cuba to boost alcohol production capacity fivefold
BY IVAN TERRERO— Granma International staff writer—

THE Cuban sugar industry is about to embark on an accelerated program of alcohol production, increasing productive capacity fivefold by modernizing existing distilleries and installing new sugar cane fermentation plants.

This was announced by Luis Gálvez, director of the Cuban Sugar Cane Derivatives Research Institute (ICIDCA), during his address on the inaugural day of the I9th International Congress on Sugar Cane and Derivatives at the Habana Libre Hotel in Havana.

"With such investments we can increase the capacity of the 18 existing refineries many times over, thus allowing us to produce alcohol for export and for gasoline mixes and to take advantage of its applications in the energy sector, as a replacement for contaminating substances that damage health," Gálvez stated.

The production and consumption of alcohol encompasses various issues including technology, the environment, costs and pricing, uses, markets, regulations, as well as social aspects, all of which prompt countries to apply appropriate options.

It is estimated that a production rate of 500 million liters of alcohol per year can be achieved with this program. The growing demand for alcohol has stimulated the agro-industrial sector like never before.

Gálvez affirmed that the domestic and export market for alcohol "opens up virtually unlimited opportunities for all the producer countries," particularly in view of the increasing international demand for ethanol which is used in fuel mixes for internal combustion engines.

"In this way," Gálvez indicated, "new alternatives to producing high-quality sugar will be available, such as the co-generation of electricity, and the production of yeast, carbon dioxide, and liquid fertilizer, among others.

The ninth edition of this congress took place in the Latin American and Caribbean region where more than half of the world’s alcohol is produced and consumed. Likewise the majority of the world’s ethanol exports come from this area and it is predicted that this production will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Peter Baron, executive director of the International Sugar Organization (OIA), gave a master lecture regarding diversification, emphasizing the various uses of alcohol as an alternative and viable fuel, given the high price of oil on the international market.

Addressing experts from 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries including Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil, along with Slovakia and Holland, Baron praised the merits of alcohol as an ecological fuel and highlighted Cuban efforts to diversify the sugar industry, which has allowed the nation to boost its production of foodstuffs and alcohol.

Brazilian expert Plinio Nastari stressed that ethyl alcohol allows producers to diversify their markets and generate higher income with the same volume of production.

Nastari stated that currently 46% of the world’s production of ethanol comes from sugar and 54% is derived from cereal such as corn.

The estimated world production of ethanol for this year is around 49.7 billion liters and, according to data from the international analysis firms Datagro and F.O. Licht, the principal producers are the United States, 36.3%; Brazil, 35.6; China, 8.5; and India, 3.8.
Likewise, Nastari recalled that in Brazil this alcohol supplies 13.2% of the total energy used for transport.

Over the last 30 years, its use has saved 1.51 billion barrels of gasoline in the South American giant, representing 13% of the proven crude and condensate reserves in the country.


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