By Gbenga Ariyibi
Ekiti State government has flagged-off another bio-fuel project in the state with the governor, Engr. Segun Oni pledging to make Ekiti one of the few states to produce biofuel/ethanol in commercial quantity in the whole of the federation.
Speaking during the ground breaking and foundation layingÂ of the $22.3 million dual purpose bio-fuel refinery in Ipao-Ekiti, Ikole Local Government Area of the state weekend, governor, Engr OniÂ expressed hope that the bio-fuel plant was expected to generate energy and offer jobs to thousands of Nigerians when it became fully operational.
According to him, â€œby the time the three biofuel plants become operational, apart from putting the state on the world map as a major bio-fuel/ethanol producing state, the plants would also offer jobs to thousands directly and indirectly. They would also generate electricity.â€
Other biofuel projects are located at Ilemeso and Iyemero in Oye and Ikole local government areas of the state respectively.
Oni, whoÂ spoke at Ipao-Ekiti assured that the state had taken a decision to be number one centre for biofuel in Africa, said: â€œWe are not going to leave any stone unturned to achieve this. We are aware of the enormous task ahead of us and we are not going to waver in our resolve to lay a solid foundation for what is going to be the most solid and virile economy in this part of the world.â€
The governor described the project as one of the Public Private Partnership, PPP, initiatives of the government aimed at attracting Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, for the rapid economic development of the state.
Also speaking, President of FL Engineering, the Chinese Technical Partner, Engr. Daniel Lee said the refinery would upon completion have the capacity to produce 30,000 metric tonnes of bio-fuel per annum, using cassava as raw material.
He said it would also produce fuel grade ethanol, with by-products such as organic fertilizer, insecticide, and carbon dioxide.
â€œOn the 3rd June 2007, we met with Mr. Governor on an idea â€” establishing a Bio-Fuel refining plant that will not only have 100% local content of raw materials but also raw materials that will be available all year round.
Even though our idea was quite early in the scheme of things of Mr. Governorâ€™s administration, he bought into our idea, because he immediately identified in it, great economic potentials, and great return on investment for the state, development and industrialization opportunities for Ekiti state. After series of meetings, brainstorming-sessions and planning with Mr. Governor, his cabinet and other representatives, what we are doing here today is a scorecard that attests to that fact that our idea of three (3) years ago has transformed into a reality-a Project. Therefore, it is with a high sense of gratitude that my team members and I wish to thank Mr. Governor and his cabinet for their belief in us and their unrelenting support over this time.â€
â€œThe project is 30,000 metric tons per annum Integrated Cassava-Based Fuel Ethanol Refinery with an estimated total project cost of about US$23.4million (N3.5billion) to be completed within twenty-two (22) months.
It is a three-phased project with refining plants that will produce three types of Fuel: Automotive bio-Fuel, Bio Diesel and Bio-Jet Fuel. By the commencement of this project, Ipao Ekiti will be spotted on the world map as a town of global reckoning because Ipso Ekiti is the first site of Cassava conversion to Ethanol technology in Africa. I feel very proud to be part of this history making,â€ Lee said.