Brazil's giant oil and gas corporation Petrobras has plans to open next year its first service stations in Japan to promote the distribution of ethanol, of which Brazil is the world's second leading producer, according to a report from O Estado de Sao Paulo. Petrobras already operates an oil refinery in Japan.
Japan would be the first step in a long term plan to conquer the Asian ethanol market. Brazil currently exports 380 million litres of ethanol (made out of sugar cane), but the target is to reach 12 billion litres in a decade. "That is one of the reason why we are in Okinawa", said Joao Brandao, director of the Nansei Sekiyu refinery recently acquired by Petrobras in Japan. With the refinery support Petrobras plans to begin the distribution of different oil refined products, including a gasoline with 3% of ethanol, as stipulated under Japanese law. However Petrobrás aim is higher: take advantage of Japan's policy of increasing the percentage of bio-fuels in its energy matrix, Japan currently imports 500 million litres of ethanol, 380 million from Brazil and the rest from the US, where the bio-fuel is made out of corn. "Petrobras had no assets in Asia and the corporation is intent in becoming global, Investing in Okinawa means participating in the leading consumer markets such as China and India which are geographically close to Japan", pointed out Brandao. Petrobrás anticipates that Japan's consumption should reach 12 billion litres annually once the country fully instruments its energy diversification policies and contaminating gas emissions reduction. The project to make Japan one of Brazil's main clients was started two years ago when BrazilJapan Ethanol was created, an association of Petrobras with Japanese government owned Nippon Alcohol Hanbai KK. Since Petrobras long term project also includes expanding sales to the rest of Asia, Japan will play a leading role in increasing sales and as a distribution hub for the area.