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Politics aside, Latin America biofuels loom large

Source:  Copyright 2008, Reuters
Date:  July 21, 2008
Byline:  Brian Ellsworth
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Latin America is emerging as a key global producer of biofuels as nations across the region seek to use competitive advantages such as fertile land and tropical weather to tap into unprecedented energy prices.

The region invested more than $8 billion in biodiesel and ethanol in 2007 and has already launched new projects that could increase global energy production as demand from emerging-market economies outstrips growth in oil and gas production.

The efforts contrast sharply with the broad condemnation by leaders in the region, led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, that the fuels increase food prices and spur global hunger. Critics around the world have echoed such concerns, charging farmers may divert crops toward biofuels and away from food crops.

A biofuels push could sustain energy flows from Latin America toward the United States, the world's top energy consumer, as falling oil output in Venezuela and Mexico has left ...

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