The Sinnar state government in Sudan signed a partnership with the Saudi Tala Company to produce sugar, ethanol and bio-fuel from Jatropha. The project’s size would be 165,000 acres and its costs $650 million.
If this project is implemented it would be a new trend. Internationally, over half of announced land aquisitions have been for biofuel projects according to Oxfam., but the Gulf countries have mainly focused on food production so far.
The ethanol production at the Kenana Sugar Company in Sudan, which is half owned by Saudi and Kuwaiti capital is an outlier. Its ethanol production makes better use of molasses by-products of sugar production and takes advantage of European subsidies for ethanol, but is hardly an end in itself.
If implemented, the Jatropha project of Saudi Tala would be a first as far as Gulf investors are concerned.