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Ryukyu Oil to test Japan's growing bio fuels program

Date Posted: 2008-01-24

Soaring oil prices have pushed the Japanese government into an aggressive bio fuels production program, with Okinawa at the hub of promotion.

Ryukyu Oil Company has been chosen as the test company for a five-year program to market bio fuels. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has begun the test down to local fuel station levels, planning to install new pumps at 19 service stations in the coming several years to experiment with e3 gasoline. The Ministry has worked with NEDO, the institute of industrial mechanics’ development program, and earmarked ¥1.5 billion for the experiment.

Bio fuels are produced using sugar cane being grown on Miyako Island since 2007. The e3 bio fuel is in competition with oil wholesalers, who are promoting ETBE, another type of gasoline using a mixture of ethanol produced from raw materials other than sugar cane. The e3 bio fuel is currently available at only four Okinawa locations.

“Ryukyu Oil Company will use the budget from the government and set up a special e3 fuel filling corner at the 19 gas stations,” a ministry official says. “Ryukyu Oil has become the trustee because they want to studying the process in order to spread e3 fuel nationwide.”

Miyakojima City currently has a large scale bio ethanol work project in conjunction with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The Ministry of Environment is also involved in the project.

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