Mozambique’s Sun Biofuels has made its first export by selling 30 tons of jatropha oil to German airline Lufthansa.
The company’s director of corporate affairs Luis Gouveia on Friday told the Mozambican newspaper Diario de Mozambique of the sale. He said that Lufthansa had ordered the jatropha oil for the tests it is carrying out with a view to using biofuel in its aircraft.
“On a recent visit to our project, the deputy chairman of Lufthansa considered that the oil produced at our unit was of a high quality,” said Gouveia.
Oil crushed from non-edible seeds from the drought resistant and fast growing jatropha plant are produced in the central province of Manica by British company Sun Biofuels, AFP reports.
Sun Biofuels Mozambique has invested US$9 million to produce jatropha in an area of 3 000 hectares and employs 1 000 workers.
The biofuel sold to Lufthansa was first refined in Mozambique and it second stage of refining, which turned it into kerosene, was carried out in Helsinki, Finland.
“The world market is demanding huge quantities of bio-fuel Gouveia told AFP. “Luftansa alone is seeking 400 million litres per year of bio-fuel across the world.”
He did not reveal how much they had been paid for the shipment, but said biofuel prices vary between US$900 and US$950 per ton.
Jatropha, a toxic wild plant which originated in Central America, is gaining importance as a biofuel crop, as it is relatively easy to grow and does not affect food production as its seeds are non-edible. Jatropha can grow on barren, marginal land and does not need much water. It has gained popularity in countries like China that would like to fuel cars with biodiesel without threatening the country’s food supply.
The crop may also assist some economies in adapting their agriculture as many developing countries are to face drier weather and water shortages because of global warming.
Last November Lufthansa announced that a test of regular local flights partly run on biofuel would start this year. It said it aimed to use biofuels for 5-10% of all consumption by 2020.
On July 15 Lufthansa became the first airline to use biofuels on regular commercial flights as part of a six month trial that it estimates will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1 500 tonnes during the period. The inaugural flight was expected to save 1 metric tonne of CO2.
European airlines are pressing ahead with biofuel plans in order to cut use of regular jet fuel. A pact signed last month with biofuel producers and the EU Commission aims to produce two million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020.
Lufthansa is using a mix of regular fuel and biofuel made by Neste Oil from jatropha and camelina crops and animal fats, in one engine of an Airbus plane on daily flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg.
The airline last month said the aim of the trial, along with reducing emissions, was to examine the effects of biofuel on engines.
Transport services provided by Lufthansa released 26.6 million tonnes of CO2 in 2010, according to its annual report. The group plans to reduce emissions per passenger-kilometre by 25 percent by 2020.
Air France-KLM and Britain’s Thomson Airways have said they will run commercial flights starting from September using a biofuel mix made from used cooking oil.