Twelve months ago the major oil companies delivered a biofuels action plan to the Australian Federal Government, predicting that their biofuel use would rise in 2006 to between 89 million litres and 124 million litres (23.5 million - 32.7 million gallons) of ethanol and biodiesel in 2006. The actual figure, as estimated by Renewable Fuels Australia, is sales of just 24 million litres of the biofuels this year by the major fuel retailers.

Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce says that the major oil companies have failed miserably on their 2006 target and should be forced to sell more ethanol-blended fuels. Renewable Fuels Australia has also called for more action to increase the sales of biofuels in Australia, saying that the 2006 shortfall of 65 million litres should be added onto their 2007 target. They have also raised the concern that the major fuel companies are unlikely to increase their use of biofuels without having targets enforced.

A lack of uptake of biofuels by the major fuel companies in the short-term is feared to be resulting in the banks' holding off on investing in increased production capacity. In Australia there is very little venture capital and major works such as biofuels production facilities are almost exclusively funded by investment bank capital.

A federal spokeswoman said that the government was confident of exceeding its longer-term biofuels target of 350 million litres by 2010.

[Source: Courier Mail]

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