BRAZIL'S SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPMENT of an ethanol-based biofuels sector has been the envy of other countries more dependent on oil imports. The government had the foresight in the 1980s to notice, long before the oil paradigm started to shift towards peak production, that its vast hectares of sugar cane could be put to good use as an ethanol source. It granted heavy subsidies to agricultural and related industries to alter the source of transport fuels.
Years later, many of those other countries are jumping on the biofuels bandwagon in an era where energy security has risen up the agenda--even oil-rich Nigeria. "Nigeria would be US$150 million annually richer when she adopts the development and application of biofuel as an alternative energy source to crude oil," states Funsho Kupolokun, group MD of NNPC, which has been given the task of creating the new alternative industry.
It might seem surprising that the oil industry has taken this job on board. In many nations, oil companies sign contracts with the emerging biofuels suppliers in deals based either on mandated biofuels content or tax incentives. However, in this case, the national oil company has been instructed by the government to develop the potential within cassava and sugarcane crops, both of which are plentiful.
National statistics suggest that more than 400,000 hectares of land could support high-yield sugarcane operations, for instance. At the same time, Nigeria is …