The country is likely to achieve a record export of over 400,000 tons of ethanol fetching $320 million by end of this calendar year.

Industry sources told Dawn on Thursday that so far around 313,102 tons of ethanol ($260 million) had been exported. `There are firm orders for another 85,000 tons which will take the ethanol export to cross 400,000 tons mark,` sources added.

In 2011, the country exported 363,764 tons of ethanol.

Pakistan began ethanol export in 2003 with a modest quantity of 60,000 tons when four distilleries started converting molasses into valueadded ethanol.

Prior to this the entire average quantity of two million tons of molasses produced per annum was exported at a throwaway price and never fetched more than $60 per ton.

However, with the passage of time the conversion capacity of molasses into ethanol increased manifold and today 15 distilleries are operating at 90 per cent capacity. These units have a total conversion capacity of 553,200 tons and need around three million tons of molasses per annum.

Presently these distilleries are exporting four categories of ethanol Anhydrous with 99.97 per cent purity also known fuel grade, ENA (extra neutral alcohol) 96.50 per cent purity, industrial alcohol (B-grade) with 92 per cent purity and blended (mix ENA and industrial grade) with 95 per cent purity.

Industry sources said that seven distilleries were operating in Sindh and eight in Punjab with two distilleries were under process of expansion Unicol and Shakerganj.

Furthermore, one more distillery, Hunza Sugar Mills was expected to soon come into production in Punjab.

Mohammed Kasim Hasham, an ethanol exporter and chairman of Hasham group of companies, said ethanol had become an important export item for the sugar industry.

He further said there was a strong demand for ethanol inthe world market particularly for fuel grade having 99 per purity and exporters managed to fetch a good price in the range of $775 to $900 per ton and most of exports had gone to Far East followed by Europe, Turkey and Middle East. `The technology has helped ethanol exports to small market at a faster pace because introduction of ISO tanks that could even be airlifted. Around 40,000 tons of ethanol this year has been exported through ISO tanks, he added.

Hasham disclosed that there is a wide range of utility of ethanol and besides being used as a fuel and gasoline it is being used for making medicines, cosmetics, perfumes etc.

Dated: 23-10-2012