Indonesia began testing B30 biodiesel on 13 June but ship owners are opposed to the higher blend, citing higher operating costs and poor performance in engines, according to a Jakarta Post report on 19 June.

B30 tests with various passenger vehicles and trucks would be conducted over the next four months, the Star Online reported Dadan Kusdiana, head of research and development at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, as saying.

The ministry also planned to start testing B30 use in trains, ships and agricultural machinery.

However, the River, Lake and Water Transportation Operators Association (Gapasdap) said the government should not be making B30 mandatory in 2020 when it had only focused on testing in automotive engines.

The government began its biodiesel program in 2014 to reduce carbon emissions and reduce Indonesia's dependence on fuel imports by introducing B10 biodiesel, a blend of 10% palm oil in regular diesel fuel, the Jakarta Post wrote. The use B20 became mandatory in September 2018, while B30 will be mandatory in 2020.

Gapasdap secretary-general Aminuddin Rifai said the use of B20 had already had a negative impact on ship operations, and vessels registered under the association would suffer significant losses if they had to use B30.

“Compared to pure diesel fuel, B20 has a higher rate of viscosity, which results in the slowing of the combustion process in the engines and leaves more unburnt leftovers.”

In addition, the lower calorie content and higher water content in B20 sped up the life expectancy of the nozzle injector and fuel injection pump of a ship engine.

“It eventually leads to an increase in maintenance costs for spare parts by 9-10%,” he said.

“B20’s calorific value is 5-8% lower than pure diesel fuel. At that rate, the fuel consumption increases from 100 litres to 130-140 litres for one hour of travel time,” Aminuddin added.

In response, Kusdiana said the ministry would examine all biodiesel parameters, including the density, viscosity, calorific value, freezing point, fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) content and water content.

“If required, the specifications will be adjusted to the engines,” he told the Jakarta Post.

Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) deputy chairman Togar Sitanggang said Indonesia’s total palm oil production was 45-47M tonnes/year, of which a quarter was used domestically.

The government was targeting 9-10M tonnes for the production of B30, with annual biodiesel use reaching an estimated 6.9M kilolitres by 2025 from the current 3.M kilolitres, the newspaper wrote.