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March 23, 2011

Sun Biofuels to expand African jatropha planting fivefold

by Fred Katerere

Sun Biofuels Ltd. aims to expand its cultivation of jatropha plants in Mozambique and Tanzania almost fivefold by 2018, Business Development Director Harry Stourton said.

The company intends to raise sown areas in the two countries to 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) from 4,500 hectares, he said yesterday in an interview in the Mozambican capital of Maputo. It now grows jatropha on 2,500 hectares in the central Mozambican province of Chimoio and on 2,000 hectares in Tanzania’s Kisarwe district, west of Dar es Salaam, he said.

“We would like to increase our planted area to 10,000 hectares in each country, and this will produce 40,000 tons of oil,” said Stourton. “We expect to have the first commercial press in Mozambique on 1,000 hectares next year, where we expect 300 tons of oil.”

Sun Biofuels is backed by Trading Emissions Plc, a London- listed fund focused on environmental assets that first invested in the company in 2006. The oil pressed from 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of jatropha seeds can make 1 liter (0.3 gallon) of biodiesel, according to the Renewable Energy U.K. website.

In Mozambique, Sun Biofuels has signed a memorandum of understanding to supply state-owned Petroleos de Mocambique SA. The London-based company also has prospects for exports to Europe and India, Stourton said.

“People are asking us every day if they can buy our fuel,” he said.

A regulation governing mixing of biofuels and fossil fuels was before ministers for approval, Salvador Namburete, Mozambique’s energy minister, said Feb. 27.


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