Albion produced ethanol until mid-2015

Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr E B John’s letter to SN, of August 3, titled ‘Letter was full of assumptions’. Firstly, if Mr John had enquired from estate or Ministry of Agriculture staff, he would have learned that the Albion ethanol plant was a joint project involving the Ministry of Agriculture and GuySuCo, and was funded mainly by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through a technical cooperation agreement. This was to assist the Government of Guyana in defining a critical path for the agro-energy sector through the support of small-scale bioenergy demonstration programmes the results of which were to be disseminated. In other words, the IDB, in support of government’s efforts, assessed the project, and approved funding to support the policy position on agro-energy. The end result was a model plant that employed technologies from Brazil and Canada at a cost that was publicized in the media. Apart from achieving each project objective such as flows, ethanol quality, per cent fuel blend, blend quality, etc, the plant produced ethanol continuously for GuySuCo’s internal use until mid-2015. In addition to this, it served as a training and investigative ground for a number of University of Guyana students who completed final year research papers for their Bachelor’s Degree programme doing specific studies in the various processes employed. The Albion ethanol plant became non-operational and was in non-production mode after mid-2015 because GuySuCo’s CEO dictated that operations cease.

Secondly, the outdated technologies being referred to and the need for replacements are not unique to a sugar factory in Guyana.

Typically, the transition of factory from a producer of one type of product to another takes many years and huge capital sums. In our case, that process commenced with Blairmont facility in the early 2000s to upgrade it from a raw bulk producer to a direct consumption producer, a process which continued on in the 2008-11 period at the Enmore facility. In a rather mind-boggling way, GuySuCo has chosen to close the operations of its most equipped direct consumption factory at the end of 2017.

Thirdly, the Skeldon factory will always appear as a puzzle to some. The present CEO of GuySuCo was a Director for the company that designed the Skeldon factory, supervised its construction and testing and the final handing over. In any case, he is quite familiar with the Skeldon puzzle.

Fourthly, to use the Brazil example to seemingly argue a position that ethanol may not be a good option is rather disingenuous. It is simply because Brazil’s industry is equipped with factories capable of directing its juice from sugar to ethanol or vice versa at a moment’s notice depending on market prices.

Can Mr John answer the questions in my previous letter?

Yours faithfully,

Sookram Persaud

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