Minister: Malaysia has no plans to use biojet fuel in the near future

Kok says the govt would rather put its focus on B20 implementation, which is expected to reach the market next year


MALAYSIA may not introduce a palm oil blend in aviation fuel soon, as the process to produce such a mix requires an investment worth billions of ringgit.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok acknowledged that the matter was brought up in several discussions between the government and interested parties such as airlines operators, but she maintained that the process of developing biojet fuel is still not practical for Malaysia.

“It is definitely possible (to produce the biojet fuel). That is why we need research and thorough study, as well as investors, because we need to build refinery plants to produce the fuel.

“However, it is not as easy as that,” she told the press at the launch of the Malaysian Palm Oil Information Wall at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Selangor, yesterday.

Last April, The Malaysian Reserve reported that the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) recommended the usage of biojet fuel in an effort to reduce the country’s palm oil stocks.

Former MPOB DG Datuk Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din said there are technologies currently available to produce the fuel through conversion of biological resources such as oil, fats, palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD), algae and biomass.

He said a collaborated study by MPOB and an American firm has shown that both PFAD and palm oil are suitable feedstock for biojet fuel which can be used by airlines.

He said a Malaysia-based airline would require 60,000 tonnes per year of biojet fuel to meet the 2% blending ratio requirement, as outlined by the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Through CORSIA, Malaysia expects its aviation industry to adopt 2% to 10% usage of biofuels by 2021.

Last December, the commodity stockpiled up to 3.22 million tonnes, up 6.92% from 3.09 million tonnes in November due to weak exports — ending the year at its highest stockpile ever recorded.

The edible oil and oil products have been facing low interest in the global market due to the European Union’s proposal in banning the commodity.

Malaysia mandated the use of B10 biodiesel in the transportation sector last February as an effort to ease the stockpile.

Moving forward, Kok said the government would rather put its focus on B20 implementation, which is expected to reach the market next year.

“I think before we talk about biojet fuel, let us talk about B20 implementation as it is more practical because we already have the technology,” she said.

Putrajaya aims for the domestic annual demand of crude palm oil to rise by 1.3 million tonnes in 2020 as it presses ahead with biodiesel programmes in the transport and industrial sectors.

Kok said a Malaysia palm oil delegation will head to Europe in November to meet the new European commissioners and parliamentarians for a fresh round of lobbying.

“I will most likely go to Europe in November to start a new round of lobbying,” she said, adding that it is crucial for the industry to improve because the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has been working hard to ensure oil palm plantations in the country achieve 100% Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification by year-end.

To date, about 36% of the 5.85 billion ha of oil palm plantations in the country have been certified by MSPO.

Meanwhile, Kok in a statement yesterday called for dialogues with the management and teachers of all international schools to openly discuss all issues of common interest regarding palm oil and its manner of sustainable cultivation in Malaysia.

The invitation comes in light of the issue of an international school organising a play that was critical of the industry.

On the MPI and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd’s Malaysian Palm Oil Centre at its main terminal, Kok said the move is one of the government’s efforts to increase awareness on palm oil’s benefits.

The country’s main entrance currently manages a total of about 60 million passengers annually at both its terminals.

Malaysia Airports (Sepang) Sdn Bhd GM Mohammad Suhaimi Abdul Mubin said of the total, about 30% came from Europe and this campaign would be able to shed some light on the commodity’s benefits.

Palm oil is a major agri-commodity export of Malaysia and the third-largest export which earned RM68.5 billion in revenue for the country in 2018.