The Energy Ministry has set a time frame to transition to gasohol E20 as the primary petrol grade by early next year, while phasing out gasohol 91 to boost the value of commodity crops used in biofuel, says Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.
"We want to make agricultural commodities like palm oil, sugar and cassava have a higher price by using them in biofuels," said Mr Sontirat at the 125th anniversary of Esso (Thailand) Plc in Bangkok o Friday.
Gasohol is a biofuel made from cassava and sugar blended with unleaded gasoline in proportions of 10%, 20% or 85%. It was introduced to Thai motorists for commercial sale in 2008, followed by E20 and E85 a few years later.
Thailand has five categories of petrol: gasohol 91 E10, gasohol 95 E10, gasohol E20, gasohol E85 and premium ULG 95 petrol. However, the government aims to cut down to only 3-4 types of petrol.
The Energy Business Department is studying how to mandate E20 to be available nationwide as well as studying how to deal with the impact of gasohol E20 if it becomes the primary petrol.
Mr Sontirat said the ministry plans to discuss the issue with relevant firms and authorities in the oil trade, biofuel and automobile makers to prepare for the possibility.
By 2020, the primary fuel for diesel will change to B10 or crude palm oil-made methyl ester (ME), which is 10% biofuel and 90% diesel, replacing B7 which will be downgraded to an alternative choice.
B10 has been available at some demonstration pumps since June, and will eventually be available nationwide. The retail price of B10, 2 baht per litre cheaper than B7, has been proven an attractive option for motorists.
"Support for biofuels has been set up to help the agricultural sector, where prices are fluctuating," said Mr Sontirat.
He said B10 is estimated to absorb surplus crude palm oil by 2.2 million tonnes per year or 66% of total output from B7 that absorb 1.6-1.7 million tonnes per year.
An industry source who requested anonymity said the change to B20 will not be too complicated because cars have been compatible with the fuel type since 2007.