The second of three Petrobras biodiesel plants has been inaugurated in Ceará
During the inauguration ceremony held for Petrobras’ second commercial biodiesel production plant in Quixadá (CE), held this Wednesday (20/08), president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reaffirmed that “Brazil is the country that is in the best conditions to become the global champion in biofuel production, because it has farmable land, a variety of oleaginous plants, and technology available.”
The plant is part of Petrobras Biocombustível, Petrobras’ subsidiary which will concentrate the Company’s biofuel production projects. The unit, as is the case of the first plant installed in Candeias (Bahia), is capable of producing 57 million liters of biodiesel per year.
President Lula said it is perfectly feasible for Brazil to boost food production parallelly to its biofuel production. To achieve this, the government is betting on financing technology, farming equipment, and on technical assistance. A total of R$ 25 million have been apportioned to family farming alone, added Lula.
Also present during the inauguration of the Quixadá plant, which grows Petrobras’ participation in the biodiesel productive chain, the governor of Ceará, Cid Gomes, said that the “biggest challenge for the Northeast is to increase agricultural production, both for food crops and for biofuels. We started with 6,000 planted hectares, then increased the area to 25,000, and hope to reach 80,000 hectares. When the government launched the biodiesel program, the number of Ceará inhabitants involved in family farming rose from 2,000 to the current 10,000.”
The president of Petrobras Biocombutíveis, Alan Kardec, mentioned Petrobras Biocombustível’s third commercial biodiesel plant, located in Montes Claros (Minas Gerais), is in its final construction stage. “Together, the investments in the three plants added up to R$295 million and they will generate work and income for 55,000 family farmers who were hired to provide the raw materials,” he said. Kardec also said that the family farmers will be fully supported by Petrobras to form the productive chain to supply the Company’s plants.
One of the unit’s particularities are the systems that allow maintenance to be carried out without compromising operating continuity, ensuring both high capacity performance and biodiesel quality. The plant is equipped with a crude vegetable oil pre-treatment processing system, which turns the product into refined oil.
Another differential of this plant is its great operating autonomy thanks to its large raw material, intermediary product, and finished product storage capacity.
During construction, 1,048 jobs were generated, 814 of which held by workers from Ceará, of whom 483 were from the Quixadá region.
Driving family farming
The biodiesel plant can run on vegetable (castor seeds, sunflower seeds, soybeans, cotton, etc.) and animal (cattle, swine or chicken fat) raw materials, in addition to on residual oils and fat used originally to fry food.
To obtain the Social Fuel Seal, the company prioritizes the purchase of oleaginous products coming from family farming. Part of the Quixadá supply will be provided by 8,522 farmers who are planting castor and sunflower seeds in 161 municipalities in Ceará. In Rio Grande do Norte, there are 759 farmers in 32 municipalities, planting solely sunflower seeds. The representative of the family farmers, Antonia Ivoneide Silva, said the farmers took-on the challenge of producing 50% of the raw-material through the Social Seal, but they hope to reach the 85% mark.
Additionally, Petrobras Biocombustível is purchasing residual oil and fat derived from food frying processes from collector cooperatives and non-governmental organizations working in urban regions.
Technical assistance and seed supply
To ensure more productivity, the company provided 76.44 tons of castor seeds and sunflower seeds certified by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (Embrapa) to the farmers.
To guide the farmers in the planting and harvesting procedures, the services of the Rural Technical Assistance and Extension Companies (Emater) of the states of Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte were hired. The planting of oleaginous plants in consortia with other foodstuff crops, such as beans, is also encouraged.
The city of Quixadá is at the heart of a region that has vocation to produce oleaginous plants, in addition to having appropriate logistics based on railway and road transportation. The mayor of the city, Ilário Marques, who also attended the inauguration, said that “today is a historical day for Quixadá and for family farming, which will plant 120,000 to 130,000 hectares in the semi–arid region of Ceará, the producers of which will be able to sell their products free of middlemen.”
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