Biodiesel production in Colombia is forecast to continue increasing to reach 780M litres this year, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Colombia’s biodiesel consumption is estimated to marginally increase to 783M litres this year driven by good levels of domestic production and a stable blending mandate, according to the USDA’s Colombia: Biofuels Annual.

However, with projections that the South American country’s economy was expected to grow at a slower pace this year, alongside increasing petrol prices due to the gradual removal of government subsidies, growth in fuel consumption would be restricted, the report said.

The biodiesel blending mandate would continue at B10, according to the 10 June report.

Colombia’s fuel market was tightly controlled by the country’s government and the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) had the authority to set biofuel blending mandates, regulate fuel and biofuel prices, and set technical regulations on biofuel standards, the report said.

“Despite President [Gustavo] Petro’s statements that Colombia should move to clean energy sources, and reduce its consumption of fossil fuels, we do not expect any significant modifications to Colombia’s biofuels policy,” the USDA said.

Palm oil-based biodiesel production in Colombia is estimated to increase to 780M litres this year, according to the report.

At the time of the report, Colombia had 12 operational biodiesel plants (up from eight plants in 2016) using palm oil as feedstock, and one of them producing small quantities of biodiesel from used cooking oil (UCO). Six out of the 12 plants are in Colombia’s north coast departments with the remaining six in Meta (2), Santander (2), Cundinamarca (1), and Antioquia (1).

Colombia did not import or export biodiesel, the report said.

“The biodiesel industry operates with some unused production capacity and aspires to export with facilities running at full capacity. However, prospects are dim for palm oil-based biodiesel from Colombia with little opportunity for sales in the two largest biodiesel markets – Europe and the United States, due to regulatory and environmental restrictions,” the USDA said.

Although there are some research projects on advanced biofuels in Colombia, there is no production to date, according to the report.