Malaysia to delay nationwide rollout of B20 biodiesel mandate due to coronavirus curbs

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia aims to delay nationwide adoption of plans to step up the use of palm oil in biodiesel, the Malaysian Biodiesel Association said on Thursday, amid movement curbs imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The world’s second-largest producer of palm oil, Malaysia has one of the highest numbers of infections in Southeast Asia with more than 5,000 cases, 85 of whom have died.

The mandate to manufacture biofuel with a 20% palm oil component - known as B20 - for the transport sector was first rolled out in January, and was set to be fully implemented across the country by mid-June 2021.

The rollout will be paused for regions that have yet to implement it, U.R. Unnithan, president of the Malaysian Biodiesel Association told Reuters.

“This might be reviewed after the movement control order is lifted,” he said.

The mandate will restart after the movement curbs end, Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir, the director-general of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, told Reuters in a text message.

Unnithan confirmed that the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry had sent an official letter to petroleum companies and the biodiesel association informing them of the postponement.

“The ministry proposes to hold a detailed meeting with petroleum companies before deciding on a new implementation date for the three zones (that have yet to implement it),” according to the letter, reviewed by Reuters.

Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Clarence Fernandez