Brazil's gasoline imports will rise a minimum of 354 percent by 2020 due to falling sugar-cane ethanol production, the press reported Sunday, citing a government study.
The study, which was prepared at the request of President Dilma Rousseff, outlines three scenarios for the fuel market over the next eight years.
The most optimistic scenario shows Brazil's gasoline imports rising from the current level of 221,365 cubic meters per month to 1 million cubic meters per month by 2020.
"These forecasts are a warning signal and we need to take measures in this industry, and that is what we are going to do," Energy Minister Edison Lobao told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.
The intermediate scenario, according to the report, shows Brazil needing to increase its fuel imports by some 619 percent while maintaining the required ethanol mix of between 20 percent and 25 percent in gasoline.
The worst-case scenario, which factors in zero growth in ethanol and gasoline production, shows the South American country needing to expand its gasoline imports by 671 percent.
Lack of investment in refineries and stagnant ethanol output, combined with rising fuel demand, are behind the dire forecast, which is based on average annual consumption growth of 4.5 percent.
Brazil's ethanol production fell 15 percent between 2010 and 2011, with output expected to rise 8.56 percent in 2012, well below the country's needs. EFE