Ethanol and biodiesel were the central themes in the speech delivered this morning (05/07) by the executive manager for the Company’s Management System Development area, Antonio Sergio Oliveira Santana, during the event promoted by Petrobras at the Amsterdam Conference on Sustainability and Transparency. The coordinator of Petrobras’ Social Balance, Ana Paula Grether, presented the process involved in preparing the balance and the contribution it has made to improving sustainability management. Nearly 80 participants crowded the room where the event was held to listen-in on the presentations.

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The event, which is scheduled to end on Friday and will discuss issues such as sustainable development and biofuel usage, is promoted by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the world’s biggest reference in sustainability report preparation. The conference’s main sponsor, Petrobras also participates in the conference as one of the 45 finalists of the GRI Reader's Choice Awards, an initiative that will award the world’s best social balances.

On the occasion, Petrobras’ executive manage spoke about the actions that are being undertaken to increase Petrobras’ participation in the segment. The Company recently approved the creation of a subsidiary to perform biofuel-related activities. “Brazil has some 350 million hectares of farmable lands, of which 72 million are currently being used for agriculture and, of these, 3.6 million for biofuels,” said Santana. The Company’s Strategic Plan calls for global performance in biofuel marketing and logistics, leading the Brazilian production of biodiesel and increasing its stakes in the ethanol business. A total of $1.5 billon is slated to be invested in biofuels through 2012.

Ethanol – The Bioenergy Center (Cbios) creation project will not only consolidate ethanol exports, but also define long-term agreements, establish new ethanol plants, and drive mechanized production in regions that have either been degraded or are underused for agriculture.

Since October 2006, Petrobras has been developing a pilot project to produce ethanol via family farming in Rio Grande do Sul. The farmers will provide the raw material for biofuel production and will be responsible for operating microdistilleries that will be capable of producing 500 liters of ethanol per day. The production may be diversified and simultaneous with food production.

In the 1970’s, Petrobras, together with the sugar and alcohol sector and the Federal Government,  drove the world’s biggest renewable fuel usage program, the Proálcool. This project made it viable to add 25% ethanol to the gasoline, seeking both to reduce oil dependency and to use a more ecological fuel.

Biodiesel – Santana explained that biofuels are made from prioritarily non-eatable oleaginous plants, such as castor seeds, cotton, and jatropha, which may partially or totally substitute for fossil fuels. They may also be made from animal fat or residual oils. Petrobras is investing in two experimental plants in the Guamaré industrial pole (RN): one to produce from vegetal oil, the other directly from oleaginous grains.

These initiatives will benefit some 5,200 farming families. “A ton of biodiesel prevents the emission of 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide (CO²) to the atmosphere. In addition to being a fuel alternative for transportation, it will generate jobs and income for thousands of small farmers in Northeastern Brazil,” he said.

Petrobras’ 2008-2012 Business Plan calls for the production of 938 million liters of biodiesel per year. A total of R$227 million will be allotted to building industrial plants in the cities of Candeias (Bahia),  Montes  Claros (Minas Gerais), and Quixadá (Ceará), which are expected to kick-off production in the second quarter of 2008. The 2% biodiesel mix to traditional diesel has been mandatory in Brazil since January 2008, a ratio that will be raised to 5% by 2013.

GRI Reader's Choice Awards

Petrobras also participates in the conference as one of the 45 finalists of the GRI Reader's Choice Awards, an initiative that will award the world’s best social balances. The results, which will be announced tomorrow (05/07), reflect the opinion of the readers who voted, over the Internet, for the reports they considered the most complete. The publications with the most accumulated points will be declared the winners in nine different categories. In total, 800 reports participated in the first phase.

The Company has complied with the GRI’s guidelines since 2003, a stance that has been assuring international recognition to the Company’s Social & Environmental Balance. For two years in a row (2005 and 2006), it was considered a outstanding report by the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, and it was referred to as a global benchmark in several international workshops.
Petrobras was considered the world’s most sustainable oil company in a survey carried out by Management & Excellence (M&E); furthermore, it is the eighth most reputable, according to a study made by the Reputation Institute. It was the first Latin company to be on the UN’s Global Compact, and it is listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and on the São Paulo Stock Exchange’s Corporate Sustainability Index (ISE - Bovespa).

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