Clarence Woo is the Executive Director of Asian Clean Fuels Association.
Q1. You will be speaking at ARTC 2017 on the topic of ‘Biofuels in Asia: what does the growing biofuels market mean for refiners?’ Can you give us a brief insight into what you intend to cover?
The biofuels market in Asia is not necessarily a growing market, but in essence it has been a factor that has impacted refiners and the downstream fuels business for over the last decade and more.
The major concern that the oil industry faces is that governments may or may not have gone through a comprehensive feasibility and analysis of the need for alternative fuels, and the potential pitfalls that may ensue. That would be drastic for the oil industry being tasked to implement infrastructure and supply chain, and then, where biofuels no longer appear to be the interest of the ruling government, or where new drivers and directions emerge, the fuels industry would be faced with spent expenditures and a disjointed/non-existent long range roadmap.
Q2. How do you feel that Asia’s biofuels market has evolved over the last 12 months?
Biofuels was a hot subject ten years ago, and in some cases, such as in Japan, India and Thailand, still a major focus. However, in many other cases, many projects have not taken off, or failed. That is not to say that the governments have not been effective, or supportive, but there were many overriding issues or constraints, and even new developments (such as other alternative fuels/energy like the EV, hybrids, low-cost solar) that have appeared in the legislators’ radar screens.
Q3. What do you see as the single biggest challenge facing Asia’s refining sector today?
I don’t see biofuels impacting the Asian refining sector to a large extent, except for Japan and Thailand, for example. What the Asian refining sector faces now and in the future years in more ominous: a constant margin reduction, need for upgrades to meet higher fuel quality standards, efficient management of types of crude slates, new regulations on marine and jet fuel, changes to diesel market share due to dieselgate, and, in the longer term, the advent of more cost-effective EVs and hybrids entering the automotive market, reducing the demand for automotive fuels.
Q4. What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Asia’s biofuels market in the next 12 months?
Biofuels will continue to see a role in Asia, albeit not as it was envisaged a decade ago. Neste’s renewable diesel is a high quality HVO advanced fuel that can used in both diesel and jet engines. New 2nd/3rd generation biofuels will play important roles as these are more acceptable to environmental green groups. China and Japan are governments that have officially included them into their energy mix, provided that the technologies can become commercially viable in time.
Q5. Why do you think events such as ARTC 2017 are important? What do you find most beneficial about attending?
ARTC is an established platform by which the refining industry can come together to learn more about developments and technologies that can improve the industry’s competitiveness, not just within the industry, but more importantly, being prepared against global changes that could drive a complete overhaul of how we operate.
Clarence Woo will be speaking at on Biofuels in Asia: what does the growing biofuels market mean for refiners?, taking place on 30th March (Day 2) of ARTC.