Bio-fuel plants planned for next year

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Vientiane Times 23 June 2008

By Phonsavanh Vongsay   

Kolao Farm and Bio-energy Co Ltd plans to start construction of the first bio-diesel factory in Vientiane province next year.

The factory will be an investment of about 131 billion kip (US$15 million) on an area of about five hectares in Phonhong district.

“We expect to begin construction in April after land clearance in March,” said company expert Khamphong Souligno recently.

The company plans to complete the factory by early 2010 and hopes to begin bio-diesel production trials in April of the same year.

“The factory will have a production capacity of 50,000 tonnes of bio-diesel per year,” Mr Khamphong said.

It will process jatropha seeds that have been grown in the northern provinces and some central provinces.

The company plans to build another factory in Champassak province for a similar cost on a similar area, for completion in 2010.

The second plant will have a similar production capacity but will process jatropha seeds grown in the southern provinces and some central provinces.

“There are about 18,838 hectares of jatropha trees under cultivation in Champassak province,” Mr Khamphong said.

Currently the company is conducting a land survey and formulating a feasibility study on promoting jatropha plantations and factory construction after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Planning and Investment last week.

The agreement will be valid for six months after signing, according to a press release from the ministry.

The area survey will cover about 50,000 hectares in nine districts of Vientiane province with a view to growing jatropha on this land. “The company expects to sign a land concession agreement with the government soon,” Mr Khamphong said.

The company will have to spend about 609 billion kip (US$70 million) to establish the plantations and build the two factories.

“The factories will be able to produce bio-diesel worth more than 870 billion kip (US$100 million) per year,” Mr Khamphong said.

The company will work with local farmers, providing them with seeds, saplings and technical advice, and the farmers will provide their labour and land.

“We expect to have 240,000 hectares of jatropha trees by 2010,” said a company official.

Before the MoU signing, the company ran jatropha trials in districts in Khammuan, Savannakhet, Champassak and Vientiane provinces and in Vientiane, beginning in 2006.