Brazil's ethanol exports soar; Coimex inks export agreement with Thailand

Peter Howard Wertheim
OGJ correspondent

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 14 -- High international oil prices mean that Brazilian ethanol is rapidly winning a place in new markets, according to findings by consultant Júlio Maria Borges, director of the JOB Economy & Planning consulting firm in Brazil.

Borges said that, between May and July, the country exported 764 million l. of ethanol, compared with 92 million l. over the same period last year, an increase not based entirely on the environmental appeal of ethanol as a less polluting car fuel.

"This growth is motivated by prices," he said. "With oil prices hovering at $40-50 on the international market, ethanol at $32-33/bbl becomes attractive."

Borges said that the hotter rhythm of current exports means ethanol sold to new markets this year should exceed the initial forecast in May of 1.6 billion l. He now says 2004-05 shipments could total 1.9-2 billion l.

Coimex ethanol exports
A spokesperson for Grupo Coimex subsidiary Coimex Trading, Brazil's largest ethanol exporter, told OGJ it plans to invest $50 million in the ethanol sector over the next 2 years.

Coimex recently reached an agreement with Thailand's state-run oil company PTT Public Co. Ltd. for infrastructure to transport and distribute ethanol there.

Coimex is seeking a similar accord with Brazil's state-owned oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) to expedite ethanol transportation to ports. Despite the deregulation of Brazil's petroleum sector in 1997, Petrobras still owns most of the country's oil and gas transport infrastructure.

In addition, Coimex said it intends to become an ethanol producer by acquiring stakes in local ethanol plants.

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