Malaysia Updates Biodiesel Timeline

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Malaysia aims to fully switch to B20 diesel by the end of this year, according to a Reuters report, completing a transition that was originally scheduled to be done by the middle of last year but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The new mandate would give Malaysia diesel one of the world’s highest levels of renewable content.

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Biofuels are a concern to automakers and lubricant marketers because they can accumulate in engine oil sumps, diluting crankcase oils and compromising their performance.

Malaysia is the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil, and its biodiesel mandate specifies the mixing of palm methyl ester with conventional diesel. In B20 the biofuel’s portion is 20% by weight.

The country had required motor fuels to contain either 7% or 10% palm methyl ester when it resolved in 2019 to switch to B20. The country began phasing in the change in early 2020 and at that time was scheduled to complete the transition by June of 2021. The date for final implementation was pushed back because of complications caused by COVID-19 – initially to a target start of 2022, though some officials predicted it would slide further.

A Jan. 5 article by Reuters reported that Ravi Muthayah, general secretary of Malaysia’s Commodities Ministry, told a seminar that the change will not be fully implemented until the end of this year.

Countries around the world require diesel or gasoline to contain portions of biofuels. The source of biofuel varies from sugar to corn, soybean and canola – usually depending on local crops. Renewable components are generally rising, but the pace of increase has generally slowed.

Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, began implementing a B20 mandate for palm methyl ester in 2018 and announced that it would later transition to B30. Motorists and lubricant marketers have warned, however, that such levels risk damaging vehicle engines.

Malaysia officials have said they will ramp up their country’s requirement to B30 by 2025. Officials in both countries have said that the mandates are motivated by a desire to support their palm industries and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.