Peru oil producer, Maple Energy, brings ethanol plant online

By Susanne Retka Schill | May 03, 2012

Peru oil producer and refiner, Maple Energy plc, is now also an ethanol producer, beginning production at its 35 MMgy ethanol plant in Peru in April. The $275 million sugarcane-ethanol project includes a 7,000 hectare (11,000 acre) drip-irrigated plantation, of which over 6,500 hectares have been planted to date. Maple expects to harvest and process approximately 900,000 tons of sugarcane with an expected average yield of 150 tons per hectare annually and it expects ethanol yield to average more than 20 gallons of ethanol per ton of sugarcane. With the plant operational and the first sugarcane harvest begun, the company plans to begin the development of the second phase to expand the plantation.

Maple Energy began commissioning the  ethanol plant in March. Praj Industries Ltd. supplied the fermentation, distillation and dehydration systems and the steam generation facilities were supplied by Uni-systems and Allsoft Engenharia e Informatica Industrial Ltd. A 37 megawatt power generation facility supplied by Siemens is substantially complete, and should be put into service in mid-2012.

In its annual financial report, the company said that what ethanol production not sold locally would be stored at the facility. Exports, handled under a sales agreement with Mitsui, are expected to begin midyear, and most likely destined to the European market.

“We are delighted to be producing ethanol, and enormous credit should go to management and employees who have worked tirelessly to complete the largest ethanol project in Peru,” said Nigel Christie, chairman. “It is, however, only the beginning, and this year will be very important to Maple as we strive to become one of the lowest-cost producers of fuel-grade ethanol globally. We are also very pleased with the results of our hydrocarbon business where we achieved a substantial increase in profitability in 2011 as compared to 2010.”

The Ireland-registered, publicly traded company, listed in Lima and London, reported $87 million in revenues in 2011 with a gross profit of $28.6 million and net profit after taxes of $12.7 million. That compares with 2010 revenues of $71.2 million, gross profit of $21.1 million and net after taxes of $200,000. An integrated energy producer, the company initiated a cost reduction program in 2009 and 2010. Both an oil producer and refiner, the company is currently working to stimulate oil production through fracturing. It is also seeking a joint venture partner with experience in developing unconventional hydrocarbon resources such as shale gas.