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Asia's lack of biofuels demand hinders investments

(Reuters) - A lack of biofuels demand in Asia-Pacific is making it hard for companies to justify pumping billions of dollars into projects in the region, an ExxonMobil executive said on Monday, despite growing decarbonization efforts worldwide.

"The reality in Asia Pacific here, what we're finding is that there isn't enough demand for biofuels," Irtiza Sayyed, president of ExxonMobil's low carbon solutions Asia-Pacific, said at a conference during Singapore International Energy Week.

"From an industry perspective, we have identified various supply sources, but they're not meaningful and material enough to justify billions of dollars worth of investments," Sayyed added.

Biofuels, touted as one of the low-carbon solutions to fuel airplanes and ships, are costly to produce with limited feedstock options.

In Singapore, Shell earlier this year paused a biofuels project. However, Finnish producer Neste has completed an expansion at its plant in the city state, boosting its sustainable aviation fuel capacity by up to 1 million metric tons per year.

Sayyed said more communication is needed between the aviation and shipping sectors to support the growth of supply from the biofuel sector.

The use of biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel continues to increase globally. But usage remains concentrated in a small number of markets, typically important agricultural ones including the United States, Brazil, India and Thailand, which can lead to a surplus of biofuel feedstocks, BMI Research analysts said in a client report.

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