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Brazilian energy giant Petrobras, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Petrobras Biocombustível, will invest a massive $2.5 billion between 2011 and 2015 to increase production of biodiesel and ethanol. This hefty chunk of change is part of $4.1 billion Petrobras earmarked for its biofuels operations, which includes $1.3 billion for ethanol logistics and $300 million for biofuel research.

Brazilian energy company Petrobras has set aside nearly $400 million for research and development related to advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and aviation fuels. According to Petrobras Biocombustível's head of technology management, João Norberto Noschang Neto, the energy giant's 2010 to 2014 business plan calls for a deep dive into biofuels and, as Neto indicated:

Brazilian energy giant Petrobras expects demand for biofuels to soar within the next decade and will spend $3.5 billion over the next four years to at least double its biofuel output. However, Brazil's mines and energy minister Edison Lobao told Petrobras (a company that's partially owned by the Brazilian government) that, effective immediately, it will need to produce more ethanol. In a television interview, Lobao said:

Brazil's President Inázio Lula da Silva visited Europe not long ago and he promoted the benefits of Brazilian biodiesel in France and Spain. This might have seemed like a good idea, if it weren't for the fact that Spain's biggest oil company, Repsol, had just frozen the construction of a new biodiesel plant alongside the country's largest refinery in Tarragona. This leaves Brazil with just one relatively large oil company, Portugal's Galp, to distribute its biodiesel in the Old Continent.

Japan currently imports half a billion liters of ethanol per year, and about 380 million of those come from Brazil. The Brazilian energy giant Petrobras thinks that this business can be expanded, so besides a refinery that it has just bought in Okinawa, the company is planning to open ethanol fuel stations in Japan and hopes that it will sell a substantial part of the 12 billion liters of ethanol that are expected to be sold in Japan in 2019. Petrobas already operates in Japan thanks to a joint

Petrobras has announced that it's creating a subsidiary company which will work exclusively with biofuels and could become Brazil's leading biofuel exporter. The Brazilian giant believes a new company will create good economies of scale to reduce costs in biofuel production, storage and distribution.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the President of Brazil visited last week a plant near São Paul which is testing a new method to obtain ethanol from sugarcane pomace bagasse (what's left after sugar is extracted). Petrobras, the company that is financing this research hopes to obtain 40 percent more ethanol without harvesting more sugarcane.

Petrobras continues saying they can be one of the most powerful oil companies in the world by means of biofuels. The truth is that the latest movements from Brazil and its state-owned oil company leave no doubt about their expansion intentions.

Portugese energy company Galp Energia is hooking up with Brazil's PetroBras on a new biodiesel project for the European market. The plan is produce 600 thousand tonnes per year of vegetable oil in Brazil that will be converted to biodiesel fuel. The new project will be a 50/50 joint-venture between the two companies as Galp tries to expand the European market for biodiesel.

"Brazil has all the necessary conditions to become the Saudi Arabia of ethanol", affirms Petrobas board member, Paulo Roberto Costa. He also adds "Brazil is surely to become the preferred biofuel provider of the world". After such enthusiastic (!) affirmations from Mr. Costa, let's have a look at the facts and previsions for the following years.

Falling oil prices are starting to claim some biofuel casualties in India, with biodiesel not being able to compete at the pump. With crude oil dropping to around $50 per barrel, diesel in India currently costs around Rs 36 per litre (US$3.10 per gallon) which makes biodiesel at Rs 41 per litre ex-factory plus taxes look very expensive. The India Times quotes the managing director of a biodiesel company in Maharashtra as saying, "With such a stark difference, we have no option but to shut down p

In an effort to complement its world-leading ethanol production, Brazil is looking to embrace biodiesel and meet a goal of producing 855 million liters per year by 2011. To do so, Petroleum Brasil (more commonly known as Petrobras), the state-owned oil company, is looking to build 15 new biodiesel plants in several different regions of the country. Petrobras stated it has already received environmental authorization to build three.

Brazil, the world's largest ethanol producer, announced it will be conducting two projects investigating the use of hydrogen as a fuel for buses.

The Venezuelan state oil company (PDVSA) announced recently that it would likely be producing biodiesel and ethanol within the next few years. Ethanol will be the first of the two biofuels to market, since the company has already adopted ethanol production technology and plans on selling the first of the biofuel next year. Biodiesel is scheduled for three years down the line. PDVSA director Igor Martinez said the company would be studying technology used by Petrobras, the state oil company of Br

Brazil is making further steps towards energy independence with the announcement of a new diesel fuel, which is mixed with a variety of vegetable oils at the refinery. Petrobras, the state-run oil company, claims Brazil will be the most important country for renewable energy, which might already be true. The new fuel, called H-Bio, is made by mixing refinery petroleum with oil from soy, sunflower seeds, cotton and castor beans. While regular biodiesel is blended into petroleum diesel by distribu