Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the B10 biodiesel programme for the transportation sector today at Putrajaya. B10 biodiesel – which contains 10% palm oil, up from the 7% blend currently sold at the pumps – will be mandatory from February 1 next year.

The PM – who symbolically flagged off five oil tankers from Petronas, Shell, Petron, BHPetrol and Caltex at the event – says that the use of B10 biodiesel will reduce the emission of 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, and the move will also boost demand for Malaysian palm oil.

“The air quality, especially in the urban areas, will also increase through the use of biodiesel with the reduced emission of dust and black smoke into the air. The implementation of the B10 programme is apt at this time in view of the lower price of palm oil biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel,” Mahathir said, reported by Bernama. He added that the programme will also help the country to achieve its low-carbon mobility objective, as outlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

“I believe the B10 programme for the transportation sector will run smoothly and will increase palm oil demand in the country from December 2018,” the PM said, urging car manufacturers to cooperate with the government in ensuring the smooth implementation of the biodiesel programme.

Expect the percentage of palm oil content to increase in the future. “Malaysia needs to increase the fuel mixture in the future to strengthen domestic demand for palm oil,” Mahathir said, citing Indonesia’s B20 programme of 20% of palm oil biodiesel running since 2016. Dr M said that the hoped that all parties will be ready to adopt B20 by year 2020.

“The use of palm oil biodiesel will have a positive impact on the palm oil industry by reducing palm oil stocks and stabilising palm oil prices. Through this effort, 650,000 palm oil smallholders will continue to enjoy more stable palm oil prices with increased revenue,” he added.

The ministry of international trade and industry (MITI) is currently preparing the National Automotive Policy (NAP) review, and Mahathir wants biodiesel to be included. “We, by right, should ensure that in the future, only vehicles that can use more than 10% of biodiesel are sold in Malaysia,” he said.

The primary industries ministry said in a statement today that the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has been carrying out field tests on diesel vehicles – including the Peugeot 508 driven by the PM to the launch today – without encountering any problem. The tests involved 150,000 litres of B10 biodiesel. There was also an MPOB-DBKL test that clocked up over three million kilometres in just over three and a half years without any breakdowns.

It added that the palm oil-based biodiesel is a renewable energy produced by sustainable palm cultivation, and the use of one tonne of such biodiesel is equivalent to a reduction of three tonnes of CO2 in the air. In Malaysia, palm oil biodiesel was initiated in 2011 with the B5 programme, before this was increased to the current B7 blend from November 2014.

Implementation of the B10 programme for the transportation sector started on December 1, and retail sales of the fuel started today at a Shell station in Gombak. Mandatory use of B10 biodiesel will commence on February 1, 2019.

Is B10 safe? We’ve written a fair bit about B10 biodiesel before, and you can learn more about the fuel with the 10% palm oil mix here. Also check out what MPOB’s biodiesel researcher, Dr Harrison Lau, has to say here.