Absolut Distillers reviews Batangas power project

by Alena Mae S. Flores – December 10, 2015 at 11:35 pm

from Manila Standard

Absolut Distillers Inc., a company controlled by tycoon Lucio Tan, is reviewing a plan to build a P500-million sugar mill and co-generation power plant in Batangas amid the shortage of molasses.

“It might be put on hold until such time we see it necessary,” Absolut Distillers chief operating officer Gerardo Tee told reporters.

Absolut earlier said it would put up the new facility inside the recently completed 30-million liter-per-annum bioethanol facility in Lian, Batangas.

The planned sugar mill was supposed to produce 1,800 to 2,000 metric tons of sugarcane juice per day. The mill will crush the sugar cane and process the juice into bioethanol.

Bagasse from the sugarcane will then be used as fuel for the cogeneration power plant. The mill can also use sweet sorghum.

Absolut’s newly constructed bioethanol plant, meanwhile, uses molasses as feedstock for bioethanol production. The government mandates a 10-percent bioethanol blend for gasoline under the Biofuels Law of 2006.

Tee said there was a supply shortage of 600,000 tons of molasses per year which would likely result in Absolut resorting to importation.

Tee said there was ongoing talks with the Sugar Regulatory Administration to help address the existing regulation on the P400 -per-ton import levy on molasses.

Tee, who also sits as chairman of the Center for Alcohol Research & Development Foundation, asked SRA to remove or reduce the import level.

“The problem here is that there is an old SRA regulation imposing a P400 per ton of imported molasses. We want this removed. If molasses is no longer available here then we tend to import,” said Tee.

“The import levy of P400 per ton is not needed anymore because molasses are now expensive even if imported. What we don’t want is to add to the cost of fuel for motorists. They may not feel the burden so much now that oil prices are low overall, but that will not stay low forever,” he said.

The planned sugar mill and cogeneration plant was originally expected to be completed by 2017.

“The next [step] would be setting up a mill so that we can buy cane and take advantage of its bagasse to run a cogeneration biomass boiler plant,” Tee said earlier.

He said construction of the sugar mill and cogeneration plant with power generation capacity of 3 to 4 megawatts would take almost two years.

Absolut was established in 1990 under the company Absolut Chemicals Inc., which was engaged in the manufacture of ethyl alcohol and liquefied carbon dioxide as fermentation by-products used for producing soft drinks.