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  • The Bolivian Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy

Bolivian state-owned biodiesel plant in Santa Cruz de la Sierra begins operations

Photo: The Bolivian Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy

A start-up ceremony was held March 26 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, for the first biodiesel plant built by state-owned oil company Yacimientos Petrolófilos Fiscales Bolivianos.


“Today is a historic day for the country as we mark a milestone by entering the era of industrialization for the first time with the production of biofuels,” said Bolivian President Luis Arce. “Other countries preceded us in the production of biodiesel from agricultural production, [but] Bolivia could not be left out of this process—especially at this stage. Today our first biodiesel plant comes into operation, and we do so imbued with a high degree of commitment and as the only way to get the country out of dependence on fuel imports.


Franklin Molina, Bolivia’s minister of hydrocarbons and energy, explained that this plant has a production capacity of 63,000 gallons per day, or more than 21 million gallons per year.


It was built with an investment of 379.5 million Bolivian bolivianos (USD$54.8 million) and is located in the Guillermo Elder Bell Refinery in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.


It will produce biodiesel (fatty acid methyl esters) from vegetable oils, a more sustainable, high-quality fuel with lower emissions.


Molina stated that, after the start-up and stabilization phase, the plant will not only produce biodiesel but will also generate jobs in a chain that integrates the productive sector—mainly agricultural—through the production of green grain.


“Thousands of jobs will be generated in the department of Santa Cruz, benefiting transportation, industry and the private sector,” he added. “Today the country has a new industry as part of a national project.”


This plant entails a series of economic, social and environmental benefits for the country.


By replacing part of diesel imports through local production of this input, it directly contributes to reducing import costs and diesel subsidies.


Likewise, the Bolivian government highlighted the importance of the start of operations in Santa Cruz since, together with the Biodiesel Plant II in El Alto as well as a renewable diesel (hydrotreated vegetable oil) project underway, it will prevent the outflow of foreign currency abroad.


In addition, it will promote the production of vegetable oil as raw material for the plant, which will generate new sources of employment in the agro-industrial sector.


In turn, the president of YPFB, Armin Dorgathen, stated that from the start of operations, “We will have cleaner fuel and we will ensure the supply of fuel for all Bolivians.”


With the implementation of the biodiesel plant, the Bolivian government said YPFB aligns itself with the international trend towards the production of cleaner fuels, opening opportunities to expand its focus to other energy segments.



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