By Wan Nor Azura Mior Abd Aziz

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 (Bernama) -- Crude palm oil, along with other edible vegetable oils, has a strong potential to emerge as a major biofuel if petroleum prices increase exhorbitantly, Chief Executive of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) Tan Sri Datuk Dr Yusof Basiron said on Thursday. He said if crude oil prices remained cheap against a backdrop of high petroleum prices, then the edible oil would be an excellent alternative source of biodiesel.

"We have a biodiesel policy that the government initiated sometime ago, which among others, aimed at encouraging biodiesel for export.

"But Malaysia cannot rush into the implementation of the programme as petroleum companies in the country are not ready with the blending equipment to produce biodiesel," he told reporters after a roundtable discussion on the palm oil industry organised by Bernama.

He said it would take more than 12 months for plants to install the necessary facilities to produce biodiesel. "That is why we are taking this slowly.

"Petroleum companies need to prepare their blending process and equipment first," he added. Asked on petroleum prices which would encourage the market to favour alternative fuels, he said the market would be comfortable when oil prices range between US$80 and US$90 a barrel while crude palm oil fetch between RM2,600 and RM3,200 per tonne.

-- BERNAMA