6 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant to Resume Operations

The multi-million dollar Chisumbanje ethanol project, Green Fuel, which stopped operations last year, is likely to resume production after the District Ethanol Project Implementation Committee (DEPIC) came up with favourable resolutions.

DEPIC comprises of village representatives, local authority, police, members drawn from the country's political parties and Green Fuel officials.

The committee met for the first time this year in a six hours meeting held in Chisumbanje last Friday.

After the lengthy meeting, DEPIC released a joint statement indicating progress.

The Chisumbanje project, which is a joint venture between Macdom Investments, Rating and the state-run Arda Estates, suspended ethanol production due to a low market uptake.

The problem was further compounded by the lack of additional storage for a third product in the form of E10 by most fuel retail outlets.

Green Fuel has been calling for mandatory blending of petrol with ethanol, which would make the project viable and help Zimbabwe cut its massive fuel import bill.

After Friday's meeting, Green Fuels made assurance to the community over a number of issues to pave way for trust building in the implementation of the project.

There was consensus that the plant should reopen as soon as possible to avert a social disaster and to facilitate this, DEPIC resolved to provide a progressive working atmosphere to ensure the continuity of the project.

The committee also expressed concern over the 2 000 workers who were laid off due to suspension of operations.

DEPIC also resolved to finalise its position on the Mandatory Blending Statutory Instrument.

The committee's resolutions follows the adoption of recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara for the community and the company to engage and agree on a number of issue before enactment of law on compulsory blending.

Recently, DPM Mutambara visited Chisumbanje to meet parties over the ethanol plant.

After a series of visits and meetings, the cabinet committee finally agreed on adoption of mandatory blending starting with five percent and gradually moving up to 10 percent and eventually 20 percent.

An inter-ministerial committee has however recommended that only E5, which is five percent blending, be mandatory while E10, E20, E85 and E100 blends continue as optional products on the market for vehicles compatible with them.

The committee stated that logistics and infrastructure for all blending levels must be developed quickly and should be done from Msasa and at oil companies' outlets until alternative sites are in place, in particular modifications at Feruka.

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