Sugar Technology
On-line News

March 2012

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Some interesting reading :


February was a relatively stable month in terms of the world price, staying in the 24 ¢/lb range.

Analysts are having difficulty deciding about this year’s surplus with estimates ranging from 3 to 6 million tons. The problem is the Brazilian crop, which will start in April. We have seen estimates ranging from 500 to 550 million tons of cane although the consensus seems to be about 520 million, a swing of nearly 40 million tons from last year’s disaster.


With the annual Kingsman [commercial] Sugar Conference in Dubai, there is always a focus on Al Khaleej at this time of year. That company has announced that it will be commissioning another 465 000 tons of storage in March [even though the 1 million ton dome only has 250 000 tons in it at present].


The government of Sri Lanka has announced that Pelwatte and Sevenagala will start up again early this month following their nationalisation under a law designed to revive ‘Underperforming Enterprises’. Pelwatte has been in the private sector for 20 years and seemed to be performing well so how it will do better in the public sector is anybody’s guess.


Mitr Phol now owns Maryborough Sugar but it wasn’t as easy as some thought. At the start of February it only owned or controlled 37% of the shares and had to extend its offer by two weeks. It was only at the end of the month that it was able to announce that it controlled 95% of the shares and would acquire the rest by compulsory purchase.


Amyris, the US biotechnology company which has featured regularly on these pages thanks to its joint venture in Brazil to produce biofuels from sugarcane, is reporting that things are not as good as it hoped. There is even talk of it dumping biofuels – seen to be bulk chemicals – to focus on very high price speciality chemicals. The CEO is quoted as saying “We showed conclusively that our technology does work at scale but also learned that it takes time to translate from peak yield levels in the lab to maintaining those yields over longer operational periods in the field.”. Haven’t we have been there before?


Cuba has announced that it will be replacing its SO2 sulphitation for white sugar production with a sulphur salt technology from Guatemala. No technical details are available but one would have thought they should be focusing on growing cane and producing sugar rather than making a high grade product.


Some interesting data on Guysuco was reported in Guyana’s Stabroek News and in the letters page of all places. It is worth reading the whole article but in essence the letter reports a disaster :

  • Lost time due to lack of cane alone seems to be about 20% [60% at Uitvlugt]
  • Skeldon II is operating as a 197 tch factory and not at its 350 tch design
  • TC/TS was between 11.5 to 14.5 but Skeldon II was 19.7 (!)


Santos port in Brazil has long been a bottleneck in the raw sugar supply chain with sometimes a 30 day backlog of vessels waiting to load. Raizen [Cosan as was, now owned by Shell] has now announced that its sugar terminal in Santos will be equipped with a roof by the end of this year. A 40% improvement in loading efficiency is predicted.


It is while since we heard of this project, planned for Kenya’s Tana river delta about 200 km north of Mombasa. The project is controlled by Mumias which has announced that it will cost $400 million to implement, money which it is confident will be raised by mid 2013 : watch this space!

Meanwhile, the company is blaming port congestion and piracy in the Indian Ocean for delays in commissioning its new ethanol facility at Mumias itself. One has to ask why that won’t impact on the Tana Delta project, the site being only 150 km from Somalia.


The Eastern Cape sugar beet project seems to have woken up again in the light of fuel shortages in South Africa resulting from unplanned shutdowns at some of the country’s oil refineries. The project was focused on ethanol in the last incarnation and it seems that is still the case. However it must now be nearly 20 years since the project was first announced and it hasn’t started yet ….

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